There's a fan theory for nearly every beloved movie, show, or book out there, so it should come as no surprise that the Christmas rom-com The Holiday has its own dark fan theory too. The Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz house-swapping yarn is a feel good movie about finding love and the courage to be yourself. However, it has a rather bleak beginning that Entertainment Weekly writer Dana Schwartz suggests could signal there's more going on with Winslet's Iris and Diaz's Amanda than just a bit of holiday life-swapping.
Before Iris heads to Los Angeles to stay in Amanda's sprawling mansion, she briefly contemplates suicide. Yes, this is an actual part of the movie. Iris returns home after discovering the man she's been pining over for three years is engaged to someone else, and briefly breathes in the gas fumes from her oven before realizing she's about to make a terrible mistake. Schwartz points out that across the ocean, Amanda is kicking her cheating boyfriend out in the next scene, and at one point she pauses to say that she can't breathe. Now, the stress of the situation could be getting to Amanda, but there is an eerie parallel between Iris and Amanda's situations that hints that they could both die in these two moments — maybe even at the same time.
That's right, this theory posits that Iris and Amanda are actually dead, and due to their similar situations, the universe has seen fit to tie their fates together as they embark on twin journeys to solve their unfinished business. It's all very Season 6 of Lost, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Even Schwartz notes that "the characters were dead all along" fan theory is over-played, but in the context of The Holiday this dark turn makes sense. After all, the rest of the movie is about Iris and Amanda taking control of their own destinies by finding exactly what they need in two men that are seemingly perfect for them. When you add in the hopeful tale of the aging Arthur Abbott finding recognition and meaning at the most unexpected of times, then the idea that these characters are moving through some sort of afterlife doesn't seem too far-fetched. In fact, it seems more plausible than reality serving up exactly what they all need to be happy over the course of a two-week vacation.
Christmas stories have been using the possibility of death to motivate characters since A Christmas Carol. Whether it's Scrooge being visited by the ghosts of the past, present, and future, or Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey learning to appreciate life only after a near-death experience in It's a Wonderful Life, it's not unusual for a character to only learn to truly live after being faced with their own mortality. The Holiday's writer and director Nancy Meyers likely didn't intend for her film to be interpreted as one about two deceased women finding joy after death, but it's not antithetical to the Christmas spirit by any means.
Still, fans of The Holiday aren't exactly delighted by the prospect of this classic being saddled with such a dark twist. And who could blame them? After all, if Iris, Amanda, and Arthur are all dead, wouldn't that mean Jude Law's Graham and his adorable daughters have shuffled off their mortal coils as well? Or are they and Jack Black's Miles simply invented figures created to help Iris and Amanda finish their unfinished business?
Neither one of these outcomes is particularly appealing, and The Holiday loyalists haven't been shy about expressing their opinion on Twitter either. "I’m going to pretend I didn’t read this," one user tweeted in response to the article.
As dark as it may be, this fan theory doesn't ruin The Holiday. It does feel like a stretch to believe that Iris and Amanda are dead, but it's not hard to imagine that confronting their own mortality could spark their journeys. Either way, the charm of The Holiday is impervious to any and all attempts to dampen it, because there's no way a movie featuring Black and Winslet's characters falling in love at a Blockbuster will ever be anything less than magical.