Film Reviews

Last Christmas review: Emilia Clarke shines in glorified made-for-TV Christmas flick

It’s saccharine and charming, but ultimately unmemorable. But hey, it’s Christmas.

Last Christmas

Starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh and Emma Thompson

Good evening, kind viewers, and welcome to a festive-themed Movie Monday. December is fast approaching, and you may be wondering what merry capers you shall be whiling away advent with. To help you with this Herculean feat, I watched Paul Feig’s Last Christmas so that you don’t have to (though, you may ultimately want to).

I have huge amounts of respect for the people involved in this project. Paul Feig is a brilliant director: I happen to love his previous films Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters and A Simple Favor. With this in mind, I came into this film with a quiet hope that it would be brilliant. Adding on top of that the co-writing credit of Emma Thompson, I was sold. However, what ultimately unfolds is a fairly predictable rom-com plot.

Sarcastic and jaded store-elf Kate (Emilia Clarke) has aspirations of being a singer. However, a health scare the previous year has shaken her up and caused her to become almost incapable of behaving like a functioning adult. Distancing herself from her family, she survives by crashing on friend’s couches and binge drinking on a regular basis. Boss Santa (Michelle Yeoh) grows exasperated with her ways, but in walks Tom (Henry Golding), a man who she finds disarmingly charming.

In getting to know Tom, Kate slowly pieces her life back together. She mends bridges with Santa, through helping her find love, as well as repairing relationships with her close family. Additionally, she starts volunteering at a homeless shelter that Tom dedicates his time to. The twist that comes later is fairly predictable, but played well. Ultimately, the trajectory of the story allows Kate to repair herself from her previous trauma and move forwards with her life.

The rom-com is ultimately fairly unmemorable. Considering the hilarity that has been some of Feig’s previous films, I was slightly underwhelmed, though this may be owing to the more “British” humour. The line deliveries were certainly rather more dry, but I can’t remember any distinct moments in the film that caused marked hilarity. The chemistry between our two leads, Clarke and Golding, is more than compelling enough to make a heartwarming Christmas hit and it is a thoroughly diverting time.

I feel like I have been fairly critical of the film and its plot, which is an unfair reflection. Ultimately, this is a Christmas film. It is not too heavy or thought provoking, because that’s not what you want. It is an easy-to-follow, heartening tale about the importance of love and kindness, with the addition of George Michael’s music to boot. Is George Michael’s music necessary or germane to the plot? Literally not at all, apart from central character Kate’s love of George Michael, but that is entirely not the point.

Worthy of a chuckle or two, Emilia Clarke carries this festive folly to its conclusion, and it is worth seeing it for her charm alone. Though perhaps wait until it’s available for streaming in a couple of years.

Last Christmas is available in cinemas now.

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