Last Christmas, named after the iconic Christmas song by Wham!, is the first “real” holiday movie of the season to hit theatres. The term “real” is used in this review to emphasize that it is not produced by Hallmark and features a storyline different from the typical single-and-snowed-in-at-an-idyllic-country-lodge narrative that we are all used to by now. Last Christmas introduces us to Kate (Emilia Clarke), a young woman who seems to be stuck in a rut and can’t find her way out of the cycle of bad decisions that has become her life. Last Christmas is a romantic comedy through-and-through, complete with witty banter and laugh out loud moments, but – unlike a lot of Hallmark movies – the caliber of the actors allows the story to go a little bit deeper without losing the interest of the audience.
As the title leads one to believes, the film takes place during the Christmas season, which means the London streets are often filled with soft, romantic lights; a few light snow flurries; and people bundled up in warm clothing – the perfect scene for falling in love. But Last Christmas isn’t just about one character falling in love with another, it’s actually more about Kate learning to love herself and really existing instead of just being. Admittedly, it sounds pretty cliché, but you likely won’t be going to see this movie if you aren’t at least a little bit prepared for that type of thing. Over the course of 1hr and 43 mins we learn more about why Kate is the way she is and are introduced to the people who inspire her to climb out of the life-ditch.
Kate works as a cashier/elf at a year-round Christmas store run by an Asian woman (Michelle Yeoh) in the heart of London and seems to have lost all passion for her job, her family, and (in most cases) her dignity. At his point she is living off of the generosity of her friends and the patience of her boss and seems to have hit something close to rock-bottom. Enter uber-hunk Tom (Henry Golding). The mysterious Tom pursues Kate and the two seem to complement each other as they go on late night treks through the city streets – Kate is a disaster surrounded by constant drama and Tom seems to have it all figured out. Per the no spoilers policy, there’s not much more that can be said in terms of plot, but it’s certainly worth watching for those who generally find these Christmas-themed romantic-comedies appealing.
One of the highlights of this movie is Kate’s mother (Emma Thompson), who is a Yugoslavian immigrant who is overbearing, critical, and generally depressed with her own life. It is not unexpected given her track record, but Oscar-winner Emma Thompson (who also happened to be the producer and screenwriter) steals every scene she is in. The dynamics between her and the rest of the family feel very real and every interaction is fun to watch. There may be critics that say her accent isn’t correct or it’s too stereotypical – if that’s something you care about then this movie probably isn’t for you in the first place.
The beginning of the movie, particularly the first interactions between Kate and Tom, feels a little forced and not quite natural at times – which may be a result of the writing – but Last Christmas quickly finds its rhythm. In fact, it’s something that many viewers will not even notice (or will soon forget) as the story unfolds. The runtime is perfect and as long as this type of film is your cup of tea, you won’t ever be bored. If you liked the trailer, you will like the movie. It’s as simple as that. The (right) audience will love it and most (if not all) critics will condemn it – which is echoed pretty clearly in the Rotten Tomatoes scores.
Paul Feig (A Simple Favor, Spy, The Heat, Bridesmaids) directs this charming tale in a way that’s a lot more family friendly than some of his other films. There’s no raunch and no awkward scenes that would make you want to avoid watching it with parents and children. All characters in this movie are loveable and were created with that notion in mind, even the ones who only appear for a couple of minutes at a time.
If you’re looking for a wholesome story, a few laughs, a couple tears, and some really good-looking people, Last Christmas will fit the bill. Oh, and if none of this convinces you, the entire soundtrack is George Michael hits. Yes, including the beloved “Last Christmas”.
Last Christmas was released on Nov 8th, 2019.
Watch the official trailer here: