image credit: Sony Pictures

Review: The Holiday (2006) ****

Now this is a movie that feels like the Christmas season. Better still, The Holiday knows the value of a chemistry test, and a four-lead ensemble with sorta surprising casting turns out to work marvelously.

I say surprising because the four, collectively, feel disparate to me at a first glance. Jude Law is someone I associate with pained twinks, sure, but pairing him up with the mob girlfriend from The Mask / one of Charlie’s Angels? Yet their romance is my favorite part. Likewise, Kate Winslet understands an *incredibly* charming Jack Black is going to make a woman in love giggle helplessly, buoyed on the joy he brings to her, and his fist pump when they kiss is representative of how we would all react to kissing Kate Winslet. But I wouldn’t have ever thought of the two together.

The latter relationship feels the less intimate of them; Winslet’s character is on a different journey, which splits her time between that guy from Gladiator and her new 90yo best friend. The balance works great. Winslet’s performance is so relatable to me, she almost vanishes, and I know that I’d be smooching on Jack Black by the end of the movie. He’s so cute. And he communicates pretty well.

Usually I don’t connect with Cameron Diaz’s performances, and this is no different. She’s adorable to watch, though. And Law manages to meet Diaz on exactly her level. He brings warmth that makes her amelodically bright delivery feel *right.* This is a miracle performed by the casting director: Law and Diaz sparkle together.

Everyone does a great job bringing energy to dialogue that meanders, and whatever complaints I started to collect in the first couple acts were forgotten by the gorgeous ending that lets us imagine our own happy ending. Will these couples be together forever? Nobody establishes that. But they’re all together on New Year’s Eve, which we linger upon through a window, seeing them like we just got the back story on why our neighbors are smiling so much. It’s realistic enough that their joy is visceral.

Predictably, I did let out a supersonic/lesbionic scream when Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz made physical contact and didn’t immediately elope.

image credit: Sony Pictures

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