The Holiday first watch

I watched The Holiday for the first time and the film is a silly, tiring mess

Iris and Amanda did more in those two weeks than I’ve done in the last two years

Last night, my sister told me without a hint of a smile that I was the most miserable person she knew, and that I never had anything positive to say and just loved a good moan. This came after she found me watching The Holiday for the first time last night, a scenario that to be fair to her was probably an extremely unexpected one. I’m not one for a rom-com particularly, and in her mind at least my taste in film is probably a bit miserable. I’m partial to a Christmas film – The Grinch and Elf make me laugh year on year and the first two Home Alone films are hijinks of the highest order as far as I’m concerned. There’s no real reason why I’ve never watched The Holiday before the emotionally taxing year that was 2021 arrived on our doorsteps, but my logic was as follows: Lie down on a hungover December Sunday, watch one of the most popular Christmas films of all time on the year of its 15th anniversary and write up my findings. These, my festive friends, are said findings after my first watch of The Holiday.

In the words of The X Factor’s Treyc Cohen, ‘I’m ready’

Some context for my watch: Extremely hungover after a weekend of two nights out, a total of six hours aboard trains up and down the country and a hangover comparable to a punch to the head. I’d just got home with an absolutely humongous Chinese takeaway, and a breezy festive watch on the sofa with my dog felt like a recipe for success. It was go time.

It didn’t take me very long to begin to feel a bit exasperated with The Holiday. In the opening scene in the newsroom of The Telegraph, Kate Winslet (one of my all time fave actresses, by the way) and her journalist character Iris are introduced to us through monologue over her unrequited love for Jasper Bloom. I wasn’t really sure where it was going at first after their incredibly flirtatious conversation, but we’re then shown Jasper announcing his engagement to the office. Iris cries her eyes out and tries to hide it, but if a man had just flirted with me that ostentatiously only to announce an engagement I’d have stormed the stage and exposed him to the world for being a slimy weasel.

From here, the silliness is laid on thick. I honestly don’t think a single soul has ever cried like Iris does on her way home to her cottage. Her wails of despair as the screen faded to black were so melodramatic I was on the cusp of thinking they were meant to be a laugh.

Watching Cameron Diaz in this film is more tiring than going to the gym

In our introduction to film trailer business owner Amanda, she is booting out her fella for cheating on her. The fury is justified, the performance is perhaps not. Diaz spends her first scene running round the house like a woman possessed, launching herself into the air every three minutes with a shriek and a wail when she’s not chucking shoes at people’s heads. It’s all just a lot. I’m surprised Cameron Diaz didn’t draft in a stunt double for the amount of leaps and jumps she does around her mega mansion.

They should have been in the whole film tbh

Some good news next though, because in the space of a few minutes we get Lindsay Lohan, James Franco, John Krasinski and our Lord and Saviour, HRH Kathryn Hahn. Why is everyone who has literally ever been born on planet earth in this film may I ask? We might be in for a romp after all, I smirked to myself. Alas, they got about as much screen time as Meryl Streep did in Mamma Mia 2 and that was just the end of that.

Everyone is constantly talking to themselves

Something that quickly got old during my first watch of The Holiday was the obsession characters have with talking to themselves. Were the writers and director aware that since we were watching a film we actually have eyes capable enough to see what the characters are doing on screen without them having to say each and every thought aloud? Watching Iris and Amanda state every single thought, action and breath they do in their own home alone got old FAST. But you know what wasn’t going fast? The two hours and 15 minute long run time of my first watch of The Holiday.


There was so much fake crying going on, and for two very capable actresses to make acting upset look this poor is actually quite impressive. How did they get tears and emotion so wrong in this film? Everything’s all over the place – the film is literally doing everything in its power to try and make you feel something, no more so than with its excruciatingly endless suites of romantic music that I was aghast to learn was the work of Hans Zimmer. He was off his game for this one. Yikes. And on the note of  “Yikes!”, what the bloody hell was going on with Iris breathing in the gas? Was she going to kill herself over The Telegraph journo from work? DARK THEMES?!?!

This film’s plot is basically Wife Swap but without husbands

An online house swap service in 2006? And one that operates between LA and London? Is any money exchanged? I don’t get it. I need explanations on the admin of how that functions please. And I really don’t think that’s too much to ask, honestly. You can’t just whack on a janky looking website and expect me to believe a HOUSE SWAP is that simple! If you’re making me sit through a rom com that runs at TWO HOURS AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES, you can spend some of that time explaining how the premise is even possible. End of!

I almost turned the film off at the socket when we had a montage of Little Britain and Mr Brightside – a cursed 2006 time capsule that garnered a prominent shudder from me. But some good news during my first watch of The Holiday: There’s some stuff I like. I love the recurring motif of Amanda seeing her life situations in the form of the film trailers her career revolves around, it’s charming and the direction was good. And secondly, Jude fucking Law turning up.

The most believable thing in The Holiday is shagging Jude Law on sight

I mean, come on. Has anyone actually ever looked better? I am wowing, bowing, and cradling that man in this film. I’m getting the word… gorgeous. And then the morning after he shags Amanda and puts on those glasses? Excuse me, Jude! In that moment, I was pregnant.

The Holiday first watch

And on the mote of lovely men, I loved Jack Black in this film, even if the old man got more screen time than his and Iris’ blossoming relationship. I just thought it was really great of director Nancy Meyers to cast Jack Black as not comic relief, but a romantic lead. And he was both great and sexy in The Holiday – a little cute highlight of my first watch.

This is the longest film ever made

This is meant to be two week holiday? Iris and Amanda have done more in these two weeks, made more meaningful lifelong connections, than I have done in the last 25 years of my life. Amanda spent about 20 minutes with Jude Law’s secret children and then became their mother. Iris might as well be that old man’s daughter at this point. Everyone talks to each other like they’re lifelong friends and family. Kate Winslet and Jack Black went on one date and then he was in the family house at Christmas. Time has no meaning or relevance in The Holiday. It is both endless and fleeting.

The final endless hour of this film did sort of all blur into one for me, but overall, I’m glad I watched it and managed to get my own opinion on this slice of Christmas history. Maybe I’m too cynical, maybe romcoms just aren’t for me, but give me slightly less sickly slice of Christmas cinema cake next time. To end on a positive though, I will close by saying Imogen Heap’s excellent Christmas song Just For Now featuring in The Holiday was a glorious unexpected delight and Cameron Diaz has the best teeth I’ve ever seen. That’s it. Holiday season over

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