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Monday, 22 February 2021

Hollidaysburg - A Review of The 2014 Film Starring Rachel Keller, Tobin Mitnick, Claire Chapelli, Tristan Erwin, Phillip Quinaz, Kate Boyer and Director A. M. Lukas - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Underling Passages In Other People's Novels..." 

The 2014 FILM - A Review by Mark Barry

Fresh, fun, genuinely brilliant script too - for sure "Hollidaysburg" (a town and borough in Pennsylvania) falls just a teeny bit in the last hurdle when characters either fizzle out or don't sort unfinished business.

But in a world where college romances and small town relationships, growing up, falling in love, falling out of love, longing for connection, trying to find yourself type movies are either crude or just too cynical - I thought A.M. Lukas' "Hollidaysburg" felt like a breath of fresh air. A Thanksgiving/Holidays movie with head & heart. 

And all four of the principal leads get real meat on their dialogue plates to work with - especially actors Rachel Keller and Tobin Mitnick as mismatched will-they/won't-they lovers Tori and Scott. Tori underlines other people's wisdoms in books – she secretly loves her nutty obsessive sibling-heavy family and her loaded with past-life hang-ups hometown - whilst having other days when every part of her new maturing self is screaming inside to finally leave both – or take an Uzi to the lot – whichever comes first. Tori mulls on truths swirling around her overactive worrying-about other people brain – insights that she likes but finds hard to actually follow through on.

Sided with Tori and Scott are the other awkward principal couple of the film – their friends and mixed-up lovers Claire Chapelli and Tristan Erwin as Heather and Petroff. Brainy, unshaven and permanently bonged - Petroff is sat on his couch of half-life hopelessly smitten with a girl who doesn't really notice him (and should). Pizza-loving Heather comes with her own issues too - like finding a reason to get out of bed in the morning and not think about death 24/7 beneath the duvet. Or change her grey hoodie just once in a week. Or even praise her boyfriend trying valiantly in bed to move her plank-like expression when really she just wants to say the words "...I think we should break up..." and run away from her walled-in-life and equally loon-filled family and its nutjob entourage.

Other brilliant-part notables include Phillip Quinaz as Scott's older and taller brother Phil – himself a tad lost to the world in his soiled cook's apron as he traipses around the Pumpkin Pie filled kitchen of the childhood home they're going to loose in a week (it's shortly before Thanksgiving in November and the brother's parents have sold up whether the boys like it or not) - manically trying to realise that perfect recipe their absent Dad always made work. So why won't it gel now? How do you say goodbye to things? Or Tori's never-off-the-text-stream friend Katie (played with gusto by Kate Boyer) who is like crack cocaine times five - now-now-now as she sleeps with everything and anything that moves at a party but not the one her heart really yearns for. And on it goes...

In a genre that's always been hard to get right - "Hollidaysburg" is a film way above so many others, even if it didn't quite scale genius levels with an ending that felt disappointingly hurried and underdeveloped. But for me there was more than enough five-star good stuff to keep me glued (a dense and deep script from Dan Schoffer).

I liked 2014's "Hollidaysburg" a lot and I suspect many bleary Covid-19 lockdown-wasted viewers seeking some kind of filmic solace and respite will feel exactly the same.

And a little like Rachel Keller's bewitching blue eyes when Tobin Mitnick's character sees them on her Facebook page and suddenly realises he's become more than casual but seriously invested - this rather moving little movie is a mirror of life in all its frazzled messiness - frustrating and yet profoundly beautiful in equal amounts if you give it a chance...

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