(Originally published in buzz magazine on 12-15-08)
The film substitutes the typical white suburbia depicted in most Christmas movies with a Puerto Rican family in Chicago’s own Humboldt Park neighborhood. With Jesse (Rodríguez) returning from a long tour in Iraq, Mauricio (Leguizamo) flying in from Wall Street with his Jewish wife, Sarah (Messing) and Roxanna (Ferlito) back from chasing fame in Hollywood, there ought to be a lot for Edy and Anna Rodriguez (Molina
and Peña) to celebrate.
Tensions bubble over, however, when Anna hints not-so-subtly that she wants grandchildren from Sarah and Mauricio, Edy forces the family business on a still-shellshocked Jesse and Roxanna begins to reconsider her career path. Not to mention Anna’s promise to divorce Edy for infidelity—announced out of the blue to everyone at the dinner table—a schism that threatens to rip the very fabric of the family. And that’s just a small sampling of the film’s complex web of conflicts.
The actors’ strong performances are a must—otherwise Holidays would crumble under the weight of a busy plot. Instead, De Villa’s picture stings us with overwhelming drama and charms us with the redemption of a family perpetually learning how to be a family.
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