I guess I’m not exactly the target audience for a Christmas rom-com, but I don’t usually mind them. Providing the leads have believable chemistry, there’s a good story behind it all, a few laughs and something that gives you that Christmas feel good feeling, I’m happy to watch them. Sadly though, for the most part, Last Christmas struggles to tick most of those boxes.
Emilia Clarke stars as Kate (short for Katerina, her original Yugoslav name), a 26 year old who’s struggling at life right now. Her nights are filled with one-night stands and sleeping over at friends houses, dragging her suitcase behind her the next morning as she either heads to work in a Covent Garden Christmas shop or off to an audition for a West end show. She’s also currently ignoring calls from her mum (Emma Thomson), disappointing her boss (Michelle Yeoh) and coming across as selfish and not really very likeable. It’s safe to say, she’s lost her way – “Why is my life so shit?!” she exclaims after yet another disaster happens.
And then one day, Kate notices a man gazing up at a bird outside the Christmas shop and goes outside to see what he’s doing. His name is Tom (Henry Golding) and he’s handsome and charming (but a bit wooden) and despite them turning out to have zero chemistry together, they strike up a relationship – because, y’know, this is a rom-com after all. Tom takes Kate on spontaneous walks down alleyways and into nearby pocket parks, making her look up regularly so that she can appreciate the world around her. He rides a bike everywhere, doesn’t have a mobile phone and disappears for days on end. Yet his presence and friendship appear to have a positive effect on Kate, who begins to start turning her life around.
The first half of the movie is just terrible. Badly written dialogue and characters in an attempt to try and recapture some kind of Love Actually spirit, but just failing. It even tries to cram in some Brexit references and a little bit of racism to highlight the plight of immigrants. Written by Emma Thomson and directed by Paul Feig, Last Christmas is said to be inspired by the music of George Michael although, aside from its namesake, not very much of it actually ends up featuring much in the movie.
If you’ve seen the trailer, then you may well have figured out the twist that comes towards the end of the movie. If not, then you’ll probably work it out pretty early on anyway. However, I’d be lying if I said that Last Christmas didn’t manage to hit me emotionally when the time came. It also managed to invoke some warm Christmas feels and spirit too, so not quite the complete disaster it started out as.