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Last Christmas – Movie Review

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Last Christmas – Movie Review

Rating: B+ (Very Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

Great Britain has a history of making romantic comedies that combine the country’s famous wit with just the right dose of sentiment. Last Christmas falls right into that tradition, with director Paul Feig and screenwriters Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings crafting a sweet and funny story about the good we can do if we just let go of your cynical tendencies. Emilia Clarke also proves herself as a charming leading lady and it’s wonderful to see her journey over the course of the film, especially the scenes she shares with Henry Golding. Last Christmas is able to hit the right buttons to become something with a positive message we could all use.

Last Christmas immediately establishes its lead protagonist Kate’s cynical attitude and what a train wreck she can be. Emilia Clarke is able to show her less admirable traits and many flaws, but still create that hope she will reverse her Scrooge-like ways. There is a bite and humour to her remarks that are characteristic of the wit Emma Thompson puts into all of her screenplays. Clarke also proves herself adept at the more physical demands of the role, while effectively showing her change through the film. Her chemistry with Henry Golding is lovely and there’s a nice contrast with his optimistic and goofy personality.

The screenplay is very funny, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. However, Feig also succeeds at the more dramatic parts. There is a relatable quality to Kate’s own inner feelings about where her life is headed and Clarke nails the more emotional beats she is required to hit. Last Christmas does slightly touch on Brexit and the ugly side of that whole campaign, although it’s not a major part of the plot. Kate’s relationship with her parents is also well conveyed, as she deals with their concern for her. The holiday setting primarily exists to show London during that time of year, give a certain seasonal feeling and to fit with the titular George Michael song. The song “Last Christmas” will definitely be stuck in one’s head after seeing the movie.

The decision to fill the soundtrack with George Michael tunes is actually quite a nice idea and Feig knows the right time to include them in the background. Clarke also sings a few of them and it makes one want to see her in a full-fledged musical. One could make the argument that Last Christmas is a tad predictable, but that has rarely been something that has mattered with romantic comedies. We mostly just want to see the lead character find happiness. What makes Last Christmas a bit more special is the drive and development Kate goes through as she lets go of her cynical exterior.

The sorts of movies we need more of are those where cynical people realise that being angry and skeptical at everything doesn’t help anyone. Last Christmas definitely fulfills that, allowing Kate to become a fleshed-out personality we want to see change and eventually have good things happen to her. There’s a sweetness to this movie that almost recalls old-school holiday films and it does the job of being both hilarious and heartwarming. The real star of the film is Emilia Clarke, who delivers a fantastic performance with plenty of layers and the occasional charm. Last Christmas won’t be for the most cynical of people, but for others, it’s a lovely joy and needed response to dark times.

Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison