If you were to compare rom-coms to bonds, The Holiday would be a treasury bill. Extremely low risk, proportionately low return.
It stars Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet as Amanda and Iris, two beautiful single women on two different continents who decide to swap homes for the Christmas holidays. They’re both looking for a change of venue in order to escape their messed up lives (Iris is hung up over an ex-boyfriend, Amanda can’t sustain any relationship). They switch continents, fall in love (Iris with a composer in LA, Amanda with Iris’ brother), get over their problems and end up happy. The movie, unfortunately, is as prosaic as the above description.
It’s the writing. There’s hardly any humor, not much by way of intelligent or engaging dialogue, and zero depth to the characters. Quite sad, considering the top-notch cast. The acting from the two leads is mostly just ordinary – it seems like the women were on holiday and didn’t feel like working too much. The men fare better than the women. Jude Law brings his trademark charm, and Jack Black dials down the manic energy while retaining his likeability. The most memorable performance of the lot is that of Eli Wallach who plays Arthur, an aging screenwriter whom Iris befriends.
To do it justice, it does get some things right. The way Cameron Diaz sees her own life in trailerspeak, for instance. And bits of her first conversation with Jude Law. And a fleeting glimpse of Dustin Hoffman when Jack Black is discussing the score of The Graduate. Unfortunately, this is too little to save the movie.
On the whole, this isn’t the most memorable holiday you’ll ever have. You won’t be bored to death, but you’re unlikely to remember it for more than a couple of weeks.