There are people that love to see themselves as outcasts and then there are ones that truly are. That is not always a bad thing either. Some jobs require you to endure a certain amount of stuffiness from your peers, so going against that grain is a step in the right direction.
Unpopular with both students and faculty, teacher Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti) is just such a man. Prickly to the extreme, his solitary life gives him little joy but he knows no better. Even being an accomplished teacher at a known college gives him little respite from the chip on his shoulder.
When circumstances align he is forced to spend time with Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa) a very bright student with an equal chip. The film’s main sense of direction is the result of these two’s budding friendship. This emergence is handled with humour, taste and no calculated outlandishness. It’s a joy to see Giamatti riff with Sessa and the newcomer hold his own with the consummate professional.
Sideways alumni Alexander Payne and Giamatti have reunited for all the right reasons for a deep-cut journey through the early seventies with The Holdovers. This slice of life is so believably funny, that it aims for the absurd comedy that exists in normal life and hits a direct bullseye.