Lost Holiday (2019)
By Matthew Roe
For all of us old enough to have already experienced it, we all can remember a time when our teenage years pittered out, and responsibilities and consequences truly began to weigh on our every decision. When school days are replaced with 9-5 jobs and budding careers, and the drudgery of everyday adulting truly kicks in, the adjustment can be smooth for some, rocky for most, and almost non-existent for others. Michael and Thomas Matthews have taken this transitionary period in young adulthood and thrown it into a blender with hyper-stylized quirk, sardonic wit, and subtle yet emotional introspection to give audiences a grinding comedic mystery. While it is bogged down by occasional technical mishaps and a rather rocky introduction, Lost Holiday is a puzzlingly enjoyable romp through the minds of people who just don’t know what it means to grow up.
“…hyper-stylized quirk, sardonic wit, and subtle yet emotional introspection…”
Margaret (Kate Lyn Sheil) returns to her native Washington DC suburb for a reunion with her old high school buddies, dissociating strongly from the rest of the Christmas cheer going around. While her teenage years had been full of wild nights with friends, all of these individuals have now settled into pedestrian family life and the day-to-day work grind. Upon a poor meeting with her former boyfriend Mark (William Jackson Harper) and his new fiancee, Margaret joins with Henry (Thomas Matthews), and Sam (Keith Poulson) on a massive alcohol and drug-fueled binge while roaming their silent suburbia. Seemingly unconnected events all blanket each other as time goes on, and before the trio can sober up enough to take stock of their situation, they are embroiled in a kidnapping and extortion plot, forcing them through a wacky and death-defying remainder of their winter vacation.
Remember Larry Clark’s seminal 1995 masterpiece Kids? Well, this kind of feels like the kids have grown up (or they’re at least trying), and manages to dissect that weird time when the freedom and possibilities of childhood clashes against the necessities and realities of adulthood. However, unlike that sublime piece of docudrama mastery, Lost Holiday takes more pages out of the books of hyperstylist filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach, playing with absurdist situational comedy throughout a wonky mystery plot. These elements are employed against a naturalistic setting and background cast, which gives the film a playfully hysterical vibe that lasts the majority of its runtime. The cast, though at times trying a bit too hard to make their characters seem far more artsy and complex than they are, manage an overall homogeneous quality and chemistry - the more increasingly silly the situations, the better each actor plays against one another, so the faux-depth may be completely intentional.
“…manages to dissect that weird time when the freedom and possibilities of childhood clashes against the necessities and realities of adulthood.”
Donavan Sell’s cinematography does occasionally fall into noticeable jank, especially when some scenes constantly (and very noticeably) shift in and out of focus, or become oddly framed (like in some of the driving sequences). However, it is usually salvaged by the razor-sharp editing of Katie Ennis, who also manages to keep the film’s taut pacing consistent and on-point; at no point does the film ever feel like it’s wasting time. Though I wasn’t a fan of the opening sequence, which feels rather chop-shopped together with some odd title choices, it rebounds quickly into its own stride, and remains there for the duration of the film.
While brimming with a sickly sense of humor that will not appeal to everyone, Lost Holiday remains a thoroughly hilarious and satisfying experience.