DYOR’s Film Reviews: Holidate
Written by DYOR Dave
Holidate, starring Emma Roberts (of We’re the Millers fame) and Luke Bracey (of HSP family and nudes soon fame) is a refreshingly funny and surprisingly enjoyable romantic comedy, which subverts accepted and clichéd traditions of the style, while still staying remaining entrenched in the genre.
The concept of the film allows it to not only explore traditional rom-com tropes in different contexts, but also present highly stylised and colourful cinematography which makes the film aesthetically pleasing throughout. Moving from Christmas into New Years, St Patricks Day, Cinco de Mayo and Thanksgiving, the audience is treated to a diverse colour palette which evolves as the film progresses.
The long opening scene of the film engages the audience’s attention and sets the tone for the rest of the piece with the use of high and low angles, a whip pan transition and a moving camera through the decorated living room. This encapsulating camerawork adds to the attraction of the film, furthered by the array of quirky characters in Sloane’s life. Between the heavily botoxed aunt, the over-enthusiastic brother-in-law, the highly strung sister-in-law, the handsome foreign ex and the too-mature-for-her-own-good niece (just to name a few), there’s rarely a dull moment in the film.
It’s not all Easter eggs and tinsel though, as the jolly images are cleverly contrasted with the cynicism of the main characters, which provides a grounded familiarity that keeps the film from passing over into cliche’d rom-com areas. The bold colours also partly subside during the complication, as the disagreement between Sloane and Jackson plays out in front of the dull backdrops of Sloane’s apartment and the supermarket.
The one glaring issue I had with this film is unfortunately one of the key plot points that underscores the entire narrative. How could Sloane not find Jackson attractive!? As far as I’m aware her character didn’t have any vision impairment, so what could the writers have possibly been thinking when they decided that the character played the all time, hotter-than-hemsworth heartthrob Luke Bracey would be seen as unattractive. I mean seriously, the slow upwards pan of Jackson taking his shirt off in the sex scene should have been enough for any viewer to immediately see through the unrealistic script, that is, if they could see above their fully leaded pencil.
While rom-coms are not usually recognised as hotbeds for acting prowess, Holidate manages to showcase the great depth of acting talent held by both Roberts and Bracey. As the more sensitive sides of the characters come out, Bracey really comes into his own, showing the anguish felt by Jackson in the easter teahouse scene. His understated Aussie attitude and nonchalant larrikinism adds another dimension to the standard rom-com protagonist, perfectly summed up in his response to Sloane’s public apology, “na.”
The film presents several similar moments to this, as it subverts traditional tropes of the rom-com genre to more suitably represent dating and holiday culture in this monotonous dystopia of 2020. It seems that rom-coms of the late 90s and early 2000s centred mostly around the premise of an attractive man and attractive woman unable to be together due to conflicted love interests of some sort, as if every single good-looking person on the street just falls in love with each other at first glance. Holidate more accurately portrays how today’s society feel about not just love, but also holidays, with their repetitive shallow traditions, constant expectation and familial oneupmanship.
The ending of the film neatly wraps up the intertwined storylines of Sloane’s family, Jackson’s best mate and even his ex, as the satisfying finish fulfills the classic rom-com expectations and leaves the viewer with a sense of optimistic contentment. (the one caveat being the lack of on-screen nudity from Bracey). Ultimately, Holidate is an unapologetic romantic comedy that remains true to the roots of its genre, while still subverting the cliche’s and bringing it into a more modern and relatable context.
Overall, its no Kubrick, but still an enjoyable watch even for someone who isn’t usually a fan of romantic comedies. I rate it 3.5 nudes out of 5
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