Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Film Night with Fiona Lowe

This week on Friday Night at the Movies, Harlequin Mills and Boon Medical Romance Author Fiona Lowe brings you The Holiday, written and directed by Nancy Myers.

This film is special to me for a few reasons. 1. I was camping and it had been raining for 36 hours straight so a trip to the cinema got me out of a soggy tent. 2. I saw it ON MY OWN. Yes, I abandoned DH and the children …they went to see ‘Night at the Museum’ and I went to see The Holiday. Me and Jude Law, alone. Total and utter Bliss!

I have found almost everything ever written about love to be true. Shakespeare said, ‘Journey’s end with lovers meeting. What an extraordinary thought” (Iris/Kate Winslet)

And so starts The Holiday.

The Premise: Iris and Amanda who live on opposite sides of the Atlantic as well as being opposite in every other way, swap houses at Christmas on the spur of the moment to run away from their relationship woes. Amanda, who is a move-trailer editor from LA has just broken up with her longtime boyfriend and Iris who is a wedding journalist from Surrey, England has just found out that the man she loves is engaged to another woman.

This film is a romantic comedy with sparkling dialogue and there are a lot of funny sight gags as both of them get established in each other’s houses. Amanda (Cameron Diaz) deals with snow, driving on the left hand side of the road in a mini cooper, a lack of central heating and the freezing UK winter. Iris (Kate Winslet) on the other hand can’t believe her luck when she hits the Pacific Coast and a Hollywood mansion with everything that opens and shuts, a swimming pool and an amazing DVD collection.

Amanda, the workaholic can’t cope with the peace and tranquillity of a UK cottage in the country and lasts 6 hours before she decides to leave. But there is a knock at her door. Graham (Iris’s Brother aka Jude Law) is standing there, slightly worse for wear after a night at the pub. Amanda who is wigging out about the end of her relationship, the fact she has raced across the other side of the world decides to continue to act out of character, “after all, I’ll never see you again, right?” and she seduces Graham.

I have the classic male problem of no follow through. Absolutely never remember to call after a date – but as this wasn’t a date then I guess I’m off the hook.”

Graham, it appears gets drunk at the pub ‘too often just lately’, has women phoning him, “Oliva, Sophie, Amanda…busy guy,” and would appear to be the classic ladies man with commitment issues.

However, on the morning after his night with Amanda he is a bit disconcerted when she expects nothing of him. She tells him he has nothing to worry about as she is flying back to the States. He surprises himself by issuing an invitation that if she changes her mind, or if her flight is delayed she could find him with friends at the pub that night.

Throughout the film, Amanda, the movie trailer maker, has ‘flashes’ in her head of fictitious movie trailers all about herself and her relationship issues. It is a clever device to show her subconscious talking to her and it forces her to change her plans on two occasions and propels the story forward.

I won’t spoil what happens between Graham and Amanda because Graham’s story has an unexpected twist but they are both right when they say ‘my life is complicated right now.”

Meanwhile in sunny California the Santa Anas wind is whipping up an unexpected hot spell at Christmas. Iris, who has loved Jasper for the “most miserable three years of my life” and has “stayed friends” with him tries to use her time away to fall out of love with him. But Jasper is a self-centred cad, and a real user of people. He contacts her soon after her arrival and we see her resolve weaken.

The character of Iris is wonderful. She is the girl-next-door with a heart-of-gold, friendly kind and caring. She meets her elderly neighbour, Arthur Abbott who she has seen out with a carer. He appears lost with his walker and she takes him home. What starts off as Iris feeling sorry for Arthur turns into a special friendship where both of them benefit.

You’re a leading lady but somehow you’re acting like the best friend.”

Arthur, now a 90-year-old widower, has known true love. A Hollywood movie writer from the ‘Golden Age’ he wrote heroines with ‘gumption,’ based on his wife and love of his life, Marion. He suggests Iris watch a long list of old Hollywood movies. Iris takes on the challenge not realising that they are all about strong women.

Enter Miles (Jack Black) a movie music composer, who is the male version of Iris. He is everyone’s best friend, a caring, sweet man who always falls in love with the bad girls. His current girlfriend is an actress who is ‘on location,’ this Christmas. He and Iris become good friends and share lots of fun times with Arthur and his friends. They convince Arthur to attend an evening where the movie industry wishes to honour him and they help him prepare.

Miles writes a song for Arthur and while he is playing it to Iris he says, ‘I wrote one for you too. It sounds just like you.’ Aw, so sweet!

One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when Miles realises his girlfriend is not out of town but in town cheating on him. When Iris tells him she ‘really does understand how he feels’ her emotions about being in love with someone who doesn’t love her back and how she has deluded herself and reinterpreted Jasper’s actions had me reaching for the tissues.

Iris has been so busy with Arthur and Miles, feeling good about herself and having fun that she doesn’t contact Jasper and he turns up unexpectedly in California. Iris is over the moon. He must love her if he came over to visit her. At exactly the same time this is taking place, Miles’s girlfriend is telling him that she ‘made a mistake.’

Will Iris find Gumption to deal with Jasper?
Will Miles realise the ‘bad girl hottie’ will only bring him heartache?
How will Amanda and Graham deal with complicated?

Grab some hot chocolate, some real chocolate, a doona and snuggle up to watch it. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll shake your head knowingly as you recognise parts of yourself in all the characters.

Oh and the writers among us…pay close attention to the voice over at the start. That Nancy Myers, she can write!

Warm & Fuzzy Rating :: 9 out of 10….it lost one point for a continuity blooper on the timeline. See if you can spot it.

Fiona is a R*BY finalist (Australian Romantic Book of the Year2007) and her latest release is The French Doctor’s Midwife Bride and was recently reviewed at Pink Hearts Reviews. It is available on shelf in the UK, Amazon UK and Mills and It will be on sale in Australia in mid August. For more on her books check out her website, or for her day to day happenings and explorations (North Oz, anyone?) check out her blog.

Stop by the Coffee Time Romance blog to win Books and get a look in a Day in the Life...


  1. I enjoyed this movie, but thought it didn't need the Jack Black subplot -- they couldn't get into it as much as they needed to, and it ended up lengthening the movie, but the main plot and Jude Law was fantastic. Classic. :)


  2. Fiona, I'm a real sucker for the old unrequited love storyline. This sounds like a movie I'd really enjoy. Thanks for the review!