Director: Wayne Wang
Writer: Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman
Remake of: Last Holiday (1950)
Cast: Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton, Giancarlo Esposito, Alicia Witt, Gérard Depardieu, Jane Adams, Michel Estime, Susan Kellermann, Jascha Washington, Matt Ross, Ranjit Chowdhry
Seen on: 22.11.2022
Georgia (Queen Latifah) lives a simple life as a department store clerk, dreaming of her co-worker Seah (LL Cool J) and cooking the meals of her dreams in her time off that she never eats herself because she is always on a diet. But then she gets a shocking diagnosis: she has terminal brain cancer and doesn’t have much time left. So Georgia quits, sells everything she can and travels to Karlovy Vary for Christmas. Her great idol Chef Didier (Gérard Depardieu) works in the luxury hotel there, and she is determined to taste as much of his food as she can before she dies. Her positive spirit and hunger catches the attention not only of the Chef himself, but also of a few other guests, turning Georgia’s presumed last days on earth into a time of excitement and discovery.
Last Holiday has an over-the-top and not particularly original plot, but it works because the characters work – above all Georgia, thanks to Latifah’s wonderful presence. It’s a film that wants to be a warm blanket to snuggle into – and there’s no doubt that it achieves that.
Look, it is pretty clear where the plot is headed from second one. We know how things will play out, and fortunately the film knows that we know it, too. And so there is no pretense. The joy in the film comes from watching Georgia leaving her half-life behind, a life shaped by holding herself back, by dieting, by waiting for something to happen. Instead she starts to enjoy life and grab it and make decisions. And it’s wonderful to see how that changes things for her – would have changed her life even without spending ridiculous amounts of money on a luxury trip.
A huge part of what makes it so pleasant to watch is Queen Latifah, as usual. She knows how to ground her characters even in the most “Hollywood” of situations, and she exudes just the right amount of warmth and attractiveness to keep things believeable enough for the film. Of course, everybody would be intrigued by her. She enters a room and draws eyes and Georgia is so very much herself that you would want to spend time with her.
Latifah and LL Cool J have really nice chemistry that makes their romance supercute, despite the fact that they spend the largest part of the film separated by an ocean and not in contact with each other. You definitely want them to end up with each other, and despite the men that start admiring Georgia once she embraces herself and her life, you know that they will.
In short, Last Holiday sets out to do one very specific thing: warm your heart with a Cinderella-like story. And no matter how over-the-top (although there is a certain truth in stopping to wait for life to happen), it never breaks suspension of disbelief thanks to its charming protagonist. That means it achieves its goal and will be a welcome dose of sugary warmth if that is what you’re looking for.