Last Christmas

"Where's your elf hat, Emilia?"
Verdict: 
6/10 - In spite of decent performances, Last Christmas’s messy plot fails to spark any real joy.
Release Date: 
Wednesday, November 13, 2019
Written by: 

Last Christmas follows a cynical shop worker who begins to fall in love with a charming yet mysterious young man.

6

For many of us, the festive season isn't complete without a viewing of a Christmas movie.

And now, there is a new film to add to the list of U.K.-based holiday flicks, as Bridesmaids director Paul Feig's latest feature, Last Christmas, certainly ticks most of the boxes in the category.

Inspired by the 1984 song of the same name by the late George Michael and his Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley, the plot was co-written by screenwriter Bryony Kimmings, actress Emma Thompson, and her actor husband Greg Wise, and is set in London in late 2016.

It follows the story of a cynical young singer named Kate (Emilia Clarke), who is struggling to get her music career plans back on track after a series of health issues and a bunch of very bad decisions.

While doing her best to prepare for auditions, Kate splits her time between working in a year-round Christmas shop run by an unflappable Malaysian woman named Santa (Michelle Yeoh) and avoiding her family.

Her parents Petra (Thompson) and Ivan (Boris Isakovic), as well as her older sister Marta (Lydia Leonard), were forced to flee Yugoslavia during the wars in the early 1990s, and even though they eventually settled in Britain's capital, the formerly tight family unit has been deeply fractured by the move.

Nothing is easy for Kate, whether it be the constant jangling of the bells on her shoes which make up her elf costume for work, her clumsiness, or knack for picking the wrong men.

Yet, all that changes when she meets a mysterious stranger named Tom (Henry Golding) outside of the Christmas shop.

Tom takes Kate on a whirlwind adventure through the streets of London, dropping a series of A Christmas Carol-like life lessons, guiding her through her misfortunes, encouraging her to make amends, and compelling her to see the small things that spark joy.

But is her new beau the love of her life or perhaps the spirit of Christmas Past, Present or Yet to Come? Well, that's the question Feig and the writers ask of the audience throughout, with the answer proving to be rather divisive and best kept under wraps.

 

Clarke delivers an energetic performance and her exchanges with Yeoh and Thompson prove to be some of the most humorous.

Oddly, what is a little lacking is chemistry between the two leads. This may have been a conscious decision by the writers, yet even so, romcom fans want romance!

Golding does his best with the limited screen time he has, but is largely overshadowed by supporting characters, including his Crazy Rich Asians co-star Yeoh.

Elsewhere, cameos from Rob Delaney, Peter Serafinowicz, and Sue Perkins are much too short, and Thompson can't quite get to grips with the required accent, which comes off as Russian rather than Yugoslav.

In some ways, London is the real star of the show, with Feig doing a nice job of capturing the hustle and bustle of the city streets in the winter months, and despite the plot honouring pop icon Michael's music, Last Christmas plays no fewer than four times throughout. This borders on excessive even for a festive movie.

Feig and his writers attempt to segue in some social commentary too, delving into key topics such as xenophobia, Brexit, homelessness in the city, and the acceptance of same-sex relationships, though most of these themes are touched upon much too briefly to truly resonate.

All-in-all, Last Christmas is packed with all the cheer and cheesiness required of December viewing but somehow ends up being a bit more Hallmark than The Holiday.

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