Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Nothing Like the Holidays" (2008) - Movie Review

Festival get together are filled with unsettling awkwardness and unique happiness identifiable only with their respective families. The tensions of whether this particular topic will emerge to put the concerned people in the spot light with a public show of their private characteristics runs around when these reunions happen. You cannot avoid as in the coming eventuality of meeting them up would further give materials for the confrontation and the enjoyment for the holidays does not necessarily have that in the people. Then why do we have the event of reminding ourselves of how unsatisfied and angry at each other? Amongst those are the true love when the time comes by for the right help. Rest of the time you might hate them to their guts but the perfect timing of a soft words and kind look in the time of a situation cannot be poured out to any one and happens easily in that time with the family members. That makes the craziness worth it. But truth be told with a side note that this might not be a general case when it comes to extended family.

The subtleties vary from culture to culture. Sometimes it gets submerged for the settlement of being classy and suave or it gets bombastic and loud. The Puerto Rican family in “Nothing Like the Holidays” tend to fall in the latter. They do not dust the expectation being disappointed under the carpet. Like Mauricio (John Leguizamo) and his American wife Sarah (Debra Messing) being directly asked numerous times of why they are delaying for their baby by Mauricio’s mother Anna (Elizabeth Peña). Anna’s husband Edy (Alfred Molina) have three kids Mauricio a successful yuppie kid living in New York, Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez) a soldier returning from Iraq and Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito) a struggling aspiring actress from Los Angeles. They all come for the Christmas holidays to their parents living in Chicago. And the drama happens.

The culture is a main part in the dynamics of this family. Edy has a store business and deeply expects this holidays to be a memorable one. Anna is fed up with Edy cheating behind her back answering suspicious phone calls. Jesse has the guilt of being escaped from the death his friend succumbed to. Vanessa is struggling for years when the house hold has an idea of her glamorous life style and then there is loud mouthed family friend Johnny (Luis Guzmán) and a young wild kid working at the store Ozzy (Jay Hernandez). Every body has problems and every one of them is addressed. Is it exhausting and methodical? Yes but a family life is as such and it got to be like that. I liked how the culture plays a role in running the house. Outside in different city, they would be living a life different from this with different behavioural aspects. That instinct being the kid you were growing up comes back in a flash as soon as you step into the house of yours.

It is a colloquial film. Colloquial in its representation of the people from Puerto Rico and easily reminding how it translates in our family of brothers and sisters. Director Alfredo De Villa while does not give something new also does not repeat the formula. The place of Chicago is not expressed but in their reminiscence of the old days giving hints how they like the place.

There is a flagrance in the drama of this film. Even the most crucial breakdown of a family moment is with a taste for colours. The movie breaks out greatly at the first dinner table as a family along with friends. In an opportune to toast comes the declaration of Anna to leave Edy and watch how each of them react to it. Mauricio is terribly affected while Jesse and Roxanna seem to accept them as grown up independent people making their decisions.

Seeing “Nothing Like the Holidays” tells that the problems in a family never changes. It revolves around lost love, missed attention, secrets, favourite kid, cooking and things falling apart shaking the concept of the family itself. Most of the time it resolves down in the films as the end comes by. In previous history of this genre, the ending ties the knot perfectly and in recent times the story tellers have embraced the fact of life being a lot different and broken. And then the third version came in with an acceptance of the worst situation and the real concept of moving on as a simple sign of cinematic ending but also a taste of reality. “Nothing Like the Holidays” follows that trend. It is a pleasant film with not so much extraordinary aspects. The truth is it does not tries to be and that makes it a likable watch.

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