An ‘incredibly decent man’, or an oblivious player? Your love of Jack Black has clouded his misdeeds in The Holiday.
Nancy Meyers’ 2006 festive classic – yeah, I said it – is a firm favourite for the Love Actually generation. While never actually featuring Christmas Day – seriously, watch it back if you don’t believe me – it has enough shameless saccharinity to swell even the coldest heart, whether it’s Jude Law’s Mr. Napkinhead or Eli Wallach’s triumphant march to the stage.
Black is one of the film’s brightest stars. His playful composing, fruitily doodles and affable energy lights up the screen. For 15 years, I’ve fallen under his spell on every re-watch. Alas, while ‘for some quite inexplicably, love fades; for others love is simply lost.’
Brief rundown: Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz) breaks up with her boyfriend after she sleeps with his secretary. In an impulse browse, she decides to swap homes with Iris (Kate Winslet), who’s feeling similarly demented with love after her on-off f*ckboy Jasper (Rufus Sewell) gets engaged.
While galivanting in a snowy Surrey village with Iris’ brother (Law), a lip-biting British Ken doll, Iris meets Miles (Black), a movie composer with a girlfriend and charm to spare. The first time they meet, he gets up, close and personal to remove a speck of dirt from her eye.
I’d just say, romcoms aren’t meant to be picked apart for their realism or morals; like, it’s ultimately weird when Andrew Lincoln turns up at Keira Knightley’s door in Love Actually, but it’s become an iconic scene regardless.
So, before I go into why Black’s Miles doesn’t wholly deserve our sympathies, I still enjoy the movie as it’s intended, but upon watching it with my girlfriend, she pointed out a few things to me re. his character and why he’s not as pure as one may believe.
While Iris tries to get over Jasper and befriends Arthur Abbott (Wallach), Miles returns to her temporary LA residence one night as she’s hosting a dinner party. He has no qualms about not returning home to his partner, instead staying there for food, drinks and finishing the night with not one, but two kisses on the cheek (one of which lingers too long, he admits) and even suggests they should go see a movie sometime.
Later, he phones Iris to see if she wants to hang out. They end up going on a mate date to Blockbuster with coffee – ‘Hello, big dollop! Hey, you look great, by the way.’ – where Miles hums a number of movie themes (the best scene in the film), before seeing his girlfriend arm in arm outside. ‘Why do I always fall for the bad girl?’ he moans.
Towards the end of the movie, his relationship hangs in limbo. He goes out to lunch with Iris, where an ‘accidental boob graze’ takes place, before he ditches her at the table to see if he can patch things up – oh, and she has to pay the bill. Yes, he ends up bringing the music, running into the theatre and asking to be with Iris on New Year’s Eve, so all’s well, I guess.
I see you, Miles, you sneaky flirt. Consider yourself thankful you were played by one of the most likeable men in Hollywood.
The Holiday is available to stream on Netflix now.
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