Alexander Payne is Holding Out Over Calling The Holdovers a Cozy Film


Alexander Payne does like the idea to label The Holdovers as a “cozy” film.

In a recent conversation with IndieWire, the director discussed the movie’s holiday-centric backdrop, revealing that it draws inspiration from,“very large percentage of suicides happen between Christmas and New Years.” He examined why the label “cozy” has been applied to the period piece.

Taking place in 1970 in impending Vietnam War during the Christmas season, The Holdovers focuses on individuals who find themselves staying at a boarding school during winter break due to the absence of homes to return to. Paul Giamatti takes on the role of a professor in this period piece.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Payne expressed his ongoing surprise at the consistent use of the term “cozy” in reviews and marketing materials when describing the film.

“‘Oh, it’s like a cozy movie, or a warm hug, or putting on a sweater on a cold day and drinking hot cocoa,'” Payne said. “Part of that nauseates me a little bit.”

Payne continued, “I certainly can feel a certain coziness when I watch a Bob Rafelson movie or a Hal Ashby movie from that period. So on that level, I can understand that. I heard it or read it a couple of times, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Whether to be complimented or insulted by it. Not insulted, but you know what I mean.”

Payne draws a line at The Holdovers being a Christmas comfort movie.

“I’m not trying to be disingenuous here. I just don’t see it as a Christmas movie,” Payne said. “It’s a movie that could take place only at Christmas because of the nature of it, and it’s melancholy, in that, here are these boys who have nowhere to go at a time where you’re supposed to be with your family.”

He continued, “The lovely part is how the three main characters find a way to be together during this time where they really should be with family. Within all of that, it just seems like a Christmas movie formula, but I just didn’t see it that way. I’m reading some early reviews like, ‘Oh, people will watch this every Christmas.’ I’m like, ‘Really? Great.’ But I didn’t think about that.”



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