Film to End Your Week

‘Home for the Holidays,’ dir. Jodie Foster

A cynically accurate Thanksgiving classic

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Film to end your week

Ah, Thanksgiving, a time when families across the country come together to celebrate the values of this nation: bigotry, racism, and pumpkin pie. If Thanksgiving for you means heading home to constant arguments with family members you’d rather never see, you may find solace in “Home for the Holidays.”

The story begins when Claudia, a young art director, loses her job shortly before returning home for Thanksgiving. Part mid-life crisis, part coming-of-age story, the film follows Claudia through her debacles with her conservative parents, gay brother (played fantastically by Robert Downey Jr.), and bitter housewife sister.

Claudia and her brother Tommy maintain a constant stream of snide comments, while Tommy’s handsome friend Leo accompanies them on the standard holiday chores, flirting with Claudia throughout. 

The movie, released in 1995, also presents a fairly progressive message for its time: a strong female lead who does not rely on romance (though she does find it, it’s not the main narrative) as well as an openly gay man who, while he does subscribe to the stereotypical “artsy” characteristic, remains a complex character who actively advances the plot. This is somewhat unsurprising considering it was directed by Jodie Foster, herself a queer woman who has extensive experience in film.

However, the real value of this movie is simply that it is so relatable. It explores the strange relationships you have with people from your hometown and the odd dynamic that you have with your parents after leaving for college, especially the awkwardness of not visiting frequently. It focuses on the relationships, on the bonds and bitterness that tie families together, without making the movie too heavy. 

“Home for the Holidays” has it all: witty commentary, bittersweet moments, offbeat romance, and a main character whose palpable embarrassment at reliving her teenage years is very relatable. 

If you’re looking for a respite from the constant questions about your school, career, and love life, cozy up with this holiday underdog and reflect on what Thanksgiving is really about: remembering why you moved so far away to college. 

Reach contributing writer Sidney Spencer-Mylet at arts@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @thisissidneyyy

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