Up until the last minute plot twist Last Christmas is an upbeat feel-good Christmas Rom-Com. It’s got Christmas trees, Christmas decorations and an adorable couple in Kate (Emilia Clarke) and her mysterious love interest Tom played by Henry Golding. It’s an engaging and enjoyably anti-Christmas Christmas drama as the people in Kate’s life are brought to life. Or so it seems, as we begin to understand Kate or rather Katarina’s back story and those of her family. They have moved from the civil wars of the former Yugoslavia and have found the transition to life in London difficult due to the cultural differences and their own struggles to adapt to it and each other.
And so to the film: yes it snows in London (as you’d expect in any Christmas movie) and there seems an excess of Christmas lights – but then it is a Christmas movie – which is the point. The soundtrack is from George Michael’s back catalogue with the late songwriter’s lyrics helping to illustrate the emotions and feelings of mixed up Kate. It works well and you are reminded of how good George Michael’s lyrics and music is. It’s an engaging and identifiable movie reflecting the everyday life in grungy London with all its sleet, rain and wet pavements – thanks to the film’s production team.
It’s also a cross between Bridget Jones’ Diary, Lovely Actually and any Richard Curtis film you can think of. The 2019 movie is directed by Paul Feig and written by Bryony Kimmings and Emma Thomson. It has been panned by some critics but praised by others with the public voting it as an escapist classic of the festive genre by making it the most popular film this month. It’s not It’s A Wonderful Life or A Christmas Carol, but it does have some of the credentials of an Xmas movie and is very funny in places with some neat lines and comebacks. With its Good King Wenceslas’ theme of helping others at its core – an antidote to today’s divisive politics – and it’s championing of multi-cultural London and of people being nice to each other.
The plot is a classic narrative of the main protagonist’s journey of self-discovery – with similar sub-plots for the supporting cast. On a downer is Christmas shop store worker Kate whose fractured family is centered around her mum played by an animated Balkan accented Emma Thomson and her angry lesbian sister Marta (Lydia Leonard) while Kate’s boss is brought to life as a kindly and understanding and romantically smitten Michelle Yeoh Choo-Kheng.
Yes they are all on an emotional journey. George Michael’s music echoes the strands of the story and gives the movie its title. There are plot holes, unnecessary political correctness, but also a world we sort of recognise despite the ending looking like an advert for a department store. Festive fun for those who love Christmas enriched by cynicism and earthy Anglo Saxon language – together with an unexpected and darkly revealing plot twist which certainly gets you talking as you come out of the picture house.
Reviewed at Cineworld in Weston-super-Mare.
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