Last Christmas (2019)

Last Christmas
Director: Paul Feig
Writer: Emma Thompson, Bryony Kimmings
Based on: the Wham! song (kinda)
Cast: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Thompson, Boris Isakovic, Patti LuPone, Sue Perkins, Lydia Leonard
Seen on: 16.11.2019

Kate (Emilia Clarke) works as an elf in an all-year Christmas story run by Santa (Michelle Yeoh). She dreams of being a singer, but spends most of her time drinking, having random hook-ups and generally being a little flaky. She’s also technically homeless and distances herself from her family. That’s when she meets Tom (Henry Golding). She feels drawn to him, even though she also thinks he’s weird and she’s a little put off by his goody two shoes nature. But their connection is nevertheless undeniable.

Last Christmas is rather cute until it jumps the shark. I mean, it’s still enjoyable thanks to Clarke and Golding, but the big reveal did have me facepalming. A lot.

The film poster showing Kate (Emilia Clarke) and Tom (Henry Golding) on a park bench.

I expected Last Christmas to be a cheesy Christmas romance with a nice sense of humor. Given that it is written by Emma Thompson maybe I expected even a little more than that. And for the most part the film does deliver just that. It centers mostly on Kate and less on Tom and Clarke is a good lead – charming and funny – while Golding is excellent eye candy and an all-around nice guy.

I was wondering how the Wham! song played into the storyline though, given that it is kind of inspired by the music by George Michael and Wham! For a while I thought that the inspiration was more metaphorical. But then the big reveal taught me better – and I wish it hadn’t. I have a high threshold for cheesy, but this was just way too much for me. Instead of being touching and emotional, the ending made me cringe. Especially because there is a racial power dynamic here that is very uncomfortable.

Kate (Emilia Clarke) in full elf get-up at the Christmas store.

I’m also not sure about Emma Thompson’s role als Kate’s mother. As much as I love Thompson, the family’s Yugoslavian background (I’m not sure if they spelled it out more concretely whether they’re Serbian, Bosnian, … and I forgot, but I think they never mention it) plays a huge part in her characterization – and it would have been nice if somebody who actually was from former Yugoslavia and lived through the role (and spoke the language) had gotten to play it. That way it may have felt a little less like a stereotype.

Despite those things, for the longest time the film was entertaining as expected. I like George Michael’s music, there were some nice jokes and some sweet moments. Maybe you’ll be better able to stomach that ending than I was – in that case, you’ll probably enjoy the film a lot.

Kate (Emilia Clarke) and Tom (Henry Golding) in the park.

Summarizing: Expect the cheesiest thing imaginable, and if you still want to see it, go for it.

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