Movie Review: Last Christmas starring Emilia Clarke & Emma Thompson

Image Source: Empire

Last Christmas

Distributor: Universal Pictures
Production Companies: Calamity Films, Feigco Entertainment, Perfect World Pictures & Universal Pictures
Director: Paul Feig
Producers: Erik Baiers, Sarah Bradshaw (executive producer), Simon Halfon (co-producer), Jessie Henderson, David Livingstone & Emma Thompson
Writers: Emma Thompson & Greg Wise
Main Cast: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson & Michelle Yeoh
Released: November 15 2019
Running Time: 103 minutes
Certificate: 12A

Heartwarmingly festive, hilarious moments with classic cringe form the perfect recipe for a must-see Christmas movie! Last Christmas is a festive celebration of George Michael and Wham! hits; it’s truly an exciting and imaginative creative interpretation of one of the most popular Christmas hits – Last Christmas – being brought-to-life!

Synopsis

The movie opens on a classic Christmas movie scene: inside a church, where a young Kate (Emilia Clarke) is singing the lead solo in the children’s choir. Her mother, father and sister are sat in the congregation, and her Mother (Emma Thompson) is particularly emotional and clearly full of pride watching her daughter’s touching performance.

The story quickly fast-forwards to the present day: the family are living in London after fleeing from their homeland of Yugoslavia, and Kate is now a rather inadvertent, chaotic young woman. She not only finds herself an accidental one-night affair, but she is homeless, and working in much less than her dream job as an “elf” sales assistant (head to toe in festive green, complete with pom-pomed slippers and a cheerful little hat) at a rather extravagant Christmas shop in town. Her boss (Michelle Yeoh), who goes by the only obvious, self-appointed title “Santa”, has clearly lost trust in Kate and is disappointed with her blasé attitude towards work.

Kate’s life seems to be a spiralling, glittery mess, until she notices Tom (Henry Golding), an intriguing young man standing outside the shop window. This moment marks the beginning of their unlikely friendship and blossoming romance. Tom is charming, sensitive and optimistic. He simply offers Kate company, but with that comes his natural warmth and compassion, which would be to Kate a new inspiration and an honest change of heart. Kate seems to be gaining back control of her life; she feels safe and content with Tom, although things aren’t all as they had seemed.

The movie concludes with Kate having re-established relationships with her over-concerned, distressed mother and seemingly apathetic sister. She uses her gift of performance to help the local homeless charity and she appears as a new character- enlivened, restored and content.

Analysis

Within the first few minutes of the movie, it is clear to the viewer that Kate’s life isn’t the most glamorous or successful; it is evident that something is not quite right, but we are unsure what exactly this is. It seems as though she has found herself in a habitual state of dissatisfaction, accepting the little annoyances of each day with a sense of hopelessness about her. Clarke plays the perfect girl-next-door character and this relatable image instantly has you gripped.

Although she seems to be a rather harsh, stern character, Santa portrays a subtle glint of hopefulness and belief in Kate, an expectancy. This character creates a solid comparison for the viewer between someone who appears to be successful and responsible, and Kate as quite the opposite. However, there is one particular moment in the movie that seems to serve no intelligent purpose to the storyline, other than possibly to demonstrate a less tough, slightly foolish side of Santa, when a tall, mysterious man enters the shop and catches her eye. The scene is rather witless and somewhat cheapens the quality of acting, which, besides this one scene, is both authentic yet comedic.

Kate’s mum Petra is a typical worried mother, and the stress and concern of her daughter’s wellbeing is causing ill health for herself. Her desperate want to be needed and useful may be something mothers can relate to as their children grown more independent. The fact that they were immigrants also seems to haunt Petra, and the scares of Brexit cause her even more discomfort. It is evident that the amalgamation of these stresses has caused strain on her marriage to Kate’s father, who rarely appears. Thompson’s character is played exquisitely and serves an important role throughout the movie, demonstrating honest worries with both a seriousness and comical edge.

The relationship between Kate and Tom is defined strongly by laughter, recklessness, understanding and almost honesty. Kate learns to rely on Tom, but as this becomes evident and their relationship becomes more romantic, something changes and the truth reveals itself.

Summary

An incredibly moving expression of heartache and healing, Last Christmas offers a classic “bar-humbug”, slightly cynical start which gradually melts into a heartwarmingly sensitive storyline. An unexpected twist creates the perfect balance of emotions experienced throughout and provokes further thought once the movie has finished. With a brilliant cast, Last Christmas is hilarious, emotional, and most definitely Christmassy in spirit!

Notes

Target Audience: Ages 12+
Content: 2/5 – Moderate Sex References & Language
Recommendation?: Yes
Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good