Let me set the stage. Two women are aching for a change of scenery during the holidays to forget their love-troubles. Iris Simpkins (played by Kate Winslet) lives in Rosehill Cottage in Surrey and has just been assigned to write about the upcoming nuptials of her former love and current colleague. Ouch. Amanda Woods (played by Cameron Diaz) lives in Los Angeles and has just thrown out her unfaithful boyfriend. The two women connect online and decide to swap houses for the holidays.
And now Meyers weaves a complicated web of events that are delightful to watch despite their predictability. As the women navigate landing in the other woman's life, they have, as Arthur explains it to Iris, a meet-cute.
"Say a man and a woman both need something to sleep in and both go to the same men's pajama department. The man says to the salesman, 'I just need bottoms,' and the woman says, 'I just need a top.' They look at each other and that's the 'meet cute'."
Meet cute, a serendipitous meeting that ends in love. For Iris, it's Miles (played by Jack Black); for Amanda, it's Iris' brother Graham (played by Jude Law). And you just have to love how Graham thaws Amanda's icy protective shell. She admits she hasn't cried since she was fifteen when he parents divorced; he, on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, admits to crying all the time.
Amanda: You do not.
Graham: Yeah I do. More than any woman you've ever met.
Amanda: You don't have to be this nice.
Graham: It happens to be the truth.
Graham: A good book, a great film, a birthday card, I weep.
Amanda: Shut up.
Graham: I'm a major weeper.
Though all the characters were fun, I think Graham was my favorite. Iris' widowed brother is a book editor and father to two little girls. "I'm a full-time dad. I'm a working parent. I'm a mother and a father. I'm a guy who reads parenting books and cookbooks before I go to sleep. I spend my weekends buying tutus. I'm learning to sew. I'm Mr. Napkin Head!" And, during another conversation, he admits "I have a cow in the backyard and I sew. How's that for hard to relate to?'"
Okay, that's all I'm going to say about The Holiday. It was a predictable rom-com that is perfect for the holidays. In fact, I think I might just watch it one more time before my rental window closes...or maybe I'll just order the DVD so I can watch it every year. I'm sure my boys will groan when that shows up in the mail.
Surprisingly, there was quite a bit of food inspiration in the movie: a Hannukah feast with brisket and chocolate-covered macaroons; Christmas fettucine on both sides of the pond; spicy tuna rolls at a quintessentially Los Angeles sushi bar; and lots and lots of wine. But I found my inspiration in hot cocoa, which is actually mentioned more than once in the movie. I particularly liked the scene where Amanda drops in at Graham's house and he introduces her to his daughters, Sophie and Olivia. They all gather around the dining room table for mugs of hot chocolate.
Graham: No she doesn't, you each have five.
Graham [to Amanda as he hands her a mug]: You have five, too.
- butter or canola oil
- powdered sugar
- 1 cup cold water, divided
- four 1/4-ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin
- 2 cups organic raw sugar
- 1/3 cup unsulphered molasses
- 1/3 cup ginger syrup
- 3 Tablespoons dark rum, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dust liberally with powdered sugar and allow to set at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight, if possible. Once they are set, cut them, roll them in more powdered sugar.