One of our top 10 films of the year, Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers is already on its way to becoming a recurring Christmas classic. It’s also had an expedited journey to digital and home video despite doing quite well at the box office. Arriving on January 2, the Blu-ray––like the film––is a throwback in a sense as it actually features some substantial special features, including a collection of mostly wordless deleted scenes (which are “minor scenes and parts of scenes,” per Payne, because the screenplay was “pretty tight”) and a deep dive into the casting and Payne’s approach. Perhaps most interesting is an alternate ending, which ends the movie with a different character.

In the film’s final cut, we end with Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti), after he gets fired, saying a heartfelt goodbye to Angus (Dominic Sessa). Hunham takes a swig of the Remy Martin cognac he stole from the dean who fired him, spits it out his window, and drives off with all his life’s belongings. The credits roll.

In this alternate ending, titled “Mary Continues On,” we open on a table of cafeteria employees chatting, then the camera pans to Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), alone at her desk, staring at the empty cups last seen used by the main trio during the Christmas dinner Mary made for them before their Boston trip. She gets up and walks into the empty food hall, finds a spot at a table, and lights up a cigarette. The camera pans from her to the window and slowly zooms in as the snow is falling.

“While the screenplay had intended to leave the audience with a parting image of each of the three principals––Angus trotting away, Mr. Hunham driving away, and Mary back at work in a reflective mood–– we determined this final scene rhythmically unnecessary,” Payne noted. “The pan to the large window was designed to kick off the end credits while snow began to fall again outside, as it had at the beginning of the movie.”

Payne is certainly correct here, yet it is interesting that a version of the film originally ended on Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s character, who is getting the lion’s share of praise for the film at least as it pertains to awards discussion, and the bookend nature of the ending would have been a nice touch.

The Holdovers arrives on Blu-ray on January 2, 2024 and can be pre-ordered here. Listen to our discussion of the film, see the cover, and watch about 10 minutes from the film below.

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