The Holiday Blu-ray Review
PictureThe Holiday is served well by this Blu-ray transfer - 1080p AVC MPEG-4 video - but not with distinction. Arguably, this is not the type of film to show off what the format can achieve, but the resulting image is still fairly vibrant and lively, even if it doesn't quite pull off the three-dimensionality that we long for from high-resolution.
Up close and personal, the robust source print proves to be strong and reliable, packing in a fair degree of detail and a natural-looking sheen to faces, eyes, clothing and interiors. Colours, however, aren't as rich or as deep as I might have expected, given the newness of the film, and there is a slight softness to the image that may serve to enhance the cosiness of the story, but dislodges The Holiday from the usual vantage point of hi-def sharpness. Background detail, for example, is rarely held onto, for the most part lapsing in definition. Some landscape shots look quite nice, however - particularly the sweeping views of snowbound rural Surry and its winding country lanes, and even the odd view down the tree-lined, sun-dazzled streets of Beverley Hills. Blacks are more than adequate and manage to provide an essential base for an image with contrast levels that are reasonably reliable throughout.
There is some grain floating about the picture though, and this is certainly more apparent when the image has a lighter background. But, for the most part, the film plays out in warm-looking interiors so this shouldn't pose much of a problem. There is a little bit of edge enhancement but I didn't notice any picture noise, artefacting or smearing. Overall, The Holiday has a nice transfer ... just not a great one.
SoundThe Holiday is one of those sparky, effervescent films that is right at home and just as lively in a lounge unequipped with an amp or speakers as it is in one brimming with the latest AV equipment - ie. it bubbles along mainly on the power of its dialogue, with a dearth of effects and a practically complete lack of surround or bass. And, of course, this is not surprising considering the subject matter. But the pleasing thing is that, for all of its un-ambitious intentions, The Holiday still sounds perfectly decent despite the limitations of its own format - the format in question being a full PCM uncompressed 5.1 track, encoded here at 4.60mpbs 48 kHz/16-bit.
Whilst agreeably open and naturally expansive - though mainly across the front channels - the film does benefit from some nicely rendered ambience and an atmosphere that, at least, encroaches towards you with some sense of depth and placement to its casual soundscape. What sparse bass there is still feels moderately effective, adding a little foundation to the mix, and the subtleties of the aural environment - the wind rustling through the trees, the hubbub of the pub clientele and the gathering at the Hollywood bash - bringing a richer, though still modest texture to the proceedings. Dialogue, essentially, is always clear and healthy-sounding. Zimmer's score idles along in the background, for once not striving to dominate or bully the film it accompanies. I'm a fan of Zimmer's work, but when I saw his name attached to this movie I feared the worst - his bold, driving and aggressive soundmixes are not exactly what you would associate with romantic matchmaking - but his accompaniment here is fitting and surprisingly subtle.
Thus, in the grand scheme of things, The Holiday benefits from a clean and open sounding transfer that does the relatively quiet and low-key film justice.
ExtrasBesides some trailers for Stranger Than Fiction, The Pursuit Of Happyness and Casino Royale (Hurray!), The Holiday has only two special features to enhance it. The first is the commentary track from director Nancy Meyers which, quite intriguingly billed on the box as having “guests” appearing on it, boils down to a fairly run-of-the-mill, and decidedly tech-heavy, set of reminiscences, motivations and inspirations for the film from the helmswoman, herself, and composer Hans Zimmer, production designer Jon Hutman and editor Joe Hutshing. To be honest, this really isn't a chat track worth investing in unless you a big fan of the film in the first place, as it is singularly lacking in anecdote, story or gossip. In fact, the speakers manage to make the production sound pretty dull and mundane, with Meyers hardly dishing any noteworthy dirt about her cast at all. Even Zimmer - who I would love to provide commentaries on films such as Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, Pirates Of The Caribbean and Batman Begins - seems a rather odd choice of contributor for a film such as this - in that The Holiday is hardly a shining example of what the score composer can accomplish. Folks, I skipped some of this and it is fair to say that even if you manage to stick with it all, I considerably doubt that you will unearth much of value ... and you are unlikely to return to it.
The only other extra to be found is the 18-minute puff-pastry filler making of entitled Foreign Exchange: The Making Of The Holiday. Sadly, this is even worse than the bland chat-track, becoming one of those insipid, back-slapping yawn-fests that we have all seen a gazillion times before. There is absolutely nothing revelatory to be discovered here and the whole thing smacks of smile-to-camera fakery, epitomising the whole easygoing, easy-to-please enterprise that makes up the production of a formula romantic-comedy that possesses no inner germ of originality in, or of itself. A time-waster, folks. Don't bother.
VerdictSteadfastly middle-of-the-road, The Holiday is hardly groundbreaking, but nor does it outstay its welcome, either, keeping the tone light and the events breezy, if predictable. Without wanting to sound sexist (although, sadly, this is inevitable), Nancy Meyers' latest is definitely one for the ladies. I have my reservations about the Diaz/Law side of the story but, taken as part of the whole package, I can't see the film's target audience finding too much to complain about.
The Holiday's Blu-ray presentation is certainly decent enough, though. It may hardly push the envelope with regards to top-notch AV transfers, being strictly unchallenging in the visual or audio departments, but it is difficult to imagine anyone being disappointed with this disc. The let-down for the fans will, of course, be the lack of extras. The chat-track is pretty lame and sickly and the making-of a pure puffball affair, but it is fair to note that the SD edition fared no better in this respect, either.
To sum up then, The Holiday is fine, if forgettable fluff. A big-draw cast but a screenplay that is several notches below demanding. Light and disposable then, though not a holiday you will often feel the need to reminisce about.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.16
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