The Holiday is more than a Christmas movie to me. I watch it year round, have every line memorized and revisit it in my mind often, because the nuances are endless. The longer I‘m alive, the more I relate to it, and my affection has grown accordingly.
When I was younger, this movie helped me form my prototype for love. I’ve always wanted romance to develop from a foundation of friendship, as it does for Iris and Miles. Even now, I secretly hope to look at a best friend one day and realize we’re in love. (I’m still looking for my Miles and will forever be in love with Jack Black in this role only.) Now that I’m older, I see myself more in Iris’ one-sided relationship with Jasper, having been the victim of unrequited love and violated emotional boundaries. Loving deeply (even secretly) but never being chosen.
However, the power of Iris’ story is almost irrelevant to her relationships, and that’s what keeps bringing me back. It’s her coming-alive-again joy as she arrives in L.A. after a wounding season. It’s her kind concern and gentle curiosity for her elderly neighbor and soon-to-be friend. It’s the sober expression on her face as she listens to the Santa Annas rustling through the trees as the words echo through her head, “Anything can happen.” If you’ve walked through a dark period in your life, you know how revitalizing that first breeze of hope feels as it plays across your face. These days I’m longing for a breakthrough like hers.
On the other side of the pond, a very different kind of story takes place between Amanda and Graham. It’s a funny, sexy, as-advertised vacation fling that abruptly reveals itself as something far more meaningful. The bubble bursts when kids enter the picture (albeit well-mannered little girls with heart-melting British accents), along with the intimidating logistics of long-distance dating. While it doesn’t make much practical sense, their story reminds me that real love is rare and always worth the complications.
So while The Holiday is one of those movies that sounds terrible on paper, it’s truly brilliant and heartwarming in execution. Of course, with Nancy Meyers at its helm, we should never have been worried.