The Caring Heart of Holiday
As a homosexual Christian drag queen whose police officer lover died, Holiday Heart (Ving Rhames) has experienced plenty of heart ache and rejection in his life which is part of the reason why he is looking to move to Paris, France to start a new life. But one night when 12-year-old Niki (Jessika Quynn Reynolds) comes running down the street desperately asking for help he finds himself rescuing her mother Wanda (Alfre Woodard) from taking a beating from an abusive boyfriend and offering them a room in one of his apartments. It gives Holiday a sense of purpose being a father figure to Niki whilst trying to help Wanda not only to kick the habit but make a fresh start. But when Wanda starts a relationship with Silas (Mykelti Williamson), a drug dealer, which not only puts Niki in danger but threatens the rather unique family set up.
That synopsis for "Holiday Heart" barely covers what goes on in this movie and there is a whole lot more which follows such as Wanda ending up turning to prostitution to pay for her drug addiction whilst after turning their back on Holiday he ends up caring for Niki when Silas, despite being homophobic, realises that Holiday cares for Niki. And there is a lot more, far too much to go into and to tell you would spoil what is one of the most surprisingly engrossing movies I have come across in a while with a real mix of drama and emotion, hurt and love much of which is based on real life issues especially when it comes to friendships.
But let me just say "Holiday Heart" is not without its flaws and one comes very early on in the movie when at the funeral of his police officer lover Holiday, in full drag, starts singing over his coffin and unfortunately it is a bad scene, kind of comically bad. There are other scenes and some of the character changes come across like blink and you miss those moments which sadly weaken the movie's power.
Now I have to say that I can't think of another movie I have watched which features a homosexual Christian drag queen let alone one with the large, muscular frame of Ving Rhames but Rhames actually does a nice job of playing Holiday. Yes you could say that there are times when Rhames camps things up but more importantly is that he delivers the caring, forgiving heart of Holiday. At the same time Alfre Woodard delivers a knockout performance as Wanda bringing the selfishness and callousness of her character to life especially during her drug addicted phase with what is one of the movie's most powerful scenes with Niki finding her with her dealer.
What this all boils down to is that "Holiday Heart" is an entertaining but touching emotional rollercoaster with some surprising performances to back up a powerful story. But it is flawed with some humour which for me is a bit too much even if at times it nicely breaks up a series of heavy scenes.