In Nancy Meyers’ The Holiday, two women trade homes only to find that a change of address can change their lives. Iris is in love with a man who is about to marry another woman. Across the globe, Amanda, realizes the man she lives with has been unfaithful. Two women who have never met and live 6000 miles apart, find themselves in the exact same place. They meet online at a home exchange website and impulsively switch homes for the holiday. Iris moves into Amanda’s L.A. house in sunny California as Amanda arrives in the snow covered English countryside. Shortly after arriving at their destinations, both women find the last thing either wants or expects: a new romance. Amanda is charmed by Iris’ handsome brother Graham and Iris, with inspiration provided by legendary screenwriter Arthur, mends her heart when she meets film composer Miles.
For more about The Holiday and the The Holiday Blu-ray release, see the The Holiday Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on September 8, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Nancy Meyers, director of The Holiday, is, in my opinion, the current leading practitioner of the Hollywood "Chick Flick." From What Women Want to Something's Gotta Give, she has managed to consistently deliver an estrogen fueled screen experience that has delighted female audiences worldwide. Of course, for me, the best of these so-called "Chick Flicks" are the ones that are enjoyed as much by men as women. How does The Holiday hold up under this criteria?
Iris (Kate Winslett) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) have a lot in common. Despite Iris being an British writer and Amanda being a Los Angeles based film trailer maker, they are both having a rough time with the men in their lives. Through the magic of internet connectivity, Amanda discovers a travel website where vacationers are able to trade houses. Fortunately, Iris's cottage is available and both are ready for a change of scenery. So, Iris jets off to Los Angeles and Amanda whisks herself away to the English countryside… and before you can say Bridget Jones' Diary, both women will find new men who manage to solve all their problems and teach us all a lesson about love. Cue romatic song with sappy lyrics.
Despite the heavy sarcasm of the above paragraph, there is a lot to like about The Holiday. Kate Winslett, as usual, steals the show. Her storyline is clearly the more entertaining of the two and is the heart of the film. There are some genuinely sweet moments as Iris befriends an elderly Hollywood screenwriter (Eli Wallach) and takes him under her wing. Jack Black plays the love interest in this half of the story. He's a bit awkward, but enjoyable in the role. I wish I could say the same for Cameron Diaz's character. Amanda is so insufferably high-maintenance, I had a hard time even watching the scenes featuring her character. Jude Law is the love interest here and manages to elevate the Amanda storyline to being almost worth watching. It's a testament to his acting abilities that he is able to convincingly portray affection for Amanda, a character who would have been eaten by zombies in my version of this film. So, the bottom line is, four stars for the Kate Winslett scenes; one star for those awkward and frequently irritating scenes with Cameron Diaz.
The Holiday is presented in full 1080p from an AVC encode of the original source material. While I can find nothing to complain about with the transfer - - there are no artifacts, instances of edge enhancement or picture anomalies of any kind - - the transfer is just plain boring. The film is clean, colors can be vibrant, but the picture lacks punch and seems a bit lacking in shadow detail. I did not view The Holiday theatrically, so I really can't honestly report on this being an accurate reproduction of the theatrical experience. With Sony's recent track record, however, I will give them the benefit of the doubt that this is how it probably was intended to look. With that being said, don't expect to wow any of your friends with this film's video presentation
The Holiday is presented with uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio. The mix is heavily biased to the front channels with very limited surround activity. What we do have here, however, is a very clean and crisp soundtrack with perfectly intelligible dialogue and music that is nicely placed within the mix. Again, in a dialog heavy film, this is about the best we could possibly ask for. I applaud Sony for sticking to their guns with PCM, even in films that might not seem to warrant it.
-"Foreign Exchange: The Making of The Holiday"
Unsurprisingly, this is a pretty boring set of supplements. To be perfectly honest, I had a hard time staying awake during the Nancy Meyers commentary. It was just plain BORING. The "Foreign Exchange" documentary is your standard fluff piece that offers a few nice tidbits of info, but nothing really worth digging into. Fortunately, the theatrical trailer is included along with trailers for several other Sony Blu-ray releases.
The Holiday could have been a really entertaining film if it had been solely about Kate Winslett's character. Audio and Video are of decent quality, but definitely not reference grade. Supplements are, on the whole, lacking. Why is this one worth seeing? Kate Winslett and Eli Wallach. Their scenes together are fantastic and really quite charming. For this reason alone, I give the film a marginal recommendation.