Jacob Richardson | 7/11/2019
Last Christmas is unlikely to be a Christmas classic to last the ages, but it is extremely enjoyable and will light up your 2019 festive season.
Kate (Emilia Clarke) works as Santa’s elf at a London Christmas store. Kate is sliding further and further down an alcohol fuelled spiral of homelessness and pain when she runs into Tom (Henry Golding) outside her store. Tom’s dancing spirit and good heart, despite her initial reluctance to engage, start to turn her life around - but is he too good to be true?
Last Christmas has incredible production values. It looks absolutely beautiful; from the ridiculously luxe Christmas store to the brightly lit streets of London. Hell, even the bloody homeless shelter looks like something you’d see a line of tourists queuing outside of to get a selfie. Coupled with a broad range of Wham!’s music (the film is based on their Christmas hit), and you’re in for a delicious time at the cinema in the lap of visual luxury.
Acting wise, this is easy going as well. Despite some big budget stumbles in recent years (Terminator: Genisys, anyone?) Emilia Clarke is great in this - affable, likeable, and cool as shit. Even when her character is doing something terrible, like breaking a light fixture or forgetting to lock a door, Clarke’s likeability carries us through. Golding, too, cements his status after Crazy Rich Asians as a go to leading man, and does so with enough panache to create the requisite air of unpredictability that Tom, with all his twirling and ‘Look Up’ posturing, must have.
Similarly, the supporting cast is all uniformly excellent and frequently hilarious. Emma Thompson in particularly is very funny as Kate’s Croatian mother, and Santa herself (Michelle Yeoh, as the Christmas store owner with the appropriate name) is consistently laugh out loud funny.
The issues really come from the script and storyline. Written by Bryony Kimmings and Emma Thompson, Last Christmas feels for a lot of the film like a typical romance - albeit, one that seems almost too good to be true. Early in the piece there is back and forth between Kate and Tom, a will-they-won’t-they vibe coupled with a continued backslide from Kate that implies this might be a cliche, but understandably so, love story. Alas, as the relationship goes from strength to strength we start to get the impression that there is a surprise in store, and for almost anyone who has seen a movie before (or, indeed, watched one of Last Christmas’s trailers), you can pick it coming a mile off.
That doesn’t make the act of watching this unworthy; just disappointing, because as you realise what will come to be, you also fundamentally dis-invest in the two lead characters. From a relationship perspective that isn’t so much the trouble - the trouble is managing that severing of emotional connection so that the cut only encompasses your investment into Tom and Kate as a couple, as opposed to Tom and Kate as individuals. Last Christmas can’t quite manage that separation, and that makes it hard to care about our leads in the finale.
Nevertheless, this is just a bloody fun, switch-your-brain-off-and-enjoy film for the Christmas holidays, and while it may not make your movie advent calendar next year, it’s still worth a look.
Not great! But fun! So check it out!