LAST CHRISTMAS (2019)
Starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Thompson, Rebecca Root, Lydia Leonard, Patti LuPone, Madison Ingoldsby, Ingrid Oliver, Rob Delaney, John-Luke Roberts , Peter Serafinowicz, Fabien Frankel, David Mumeni, Jade Anouka, Ritu Arya, Madison Ingoldsby, Boris Isakovic, Maxim Baldry and Rob Delaney.
Screenplay by Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings.
Directed by Paul Feig.
Distributed by Universal Pictures. 102 minutes. Rated PG-13.
I’d like to give a hearty shout out to the return of the Christmas British Rom-Com. I, for one, have been looking for a return to the cheekier, mildly irreverent, refreshing romantic Christmas film, mastered in 2003’s Love Actually. My FIOS actually had to be rebooted by Artificial Intelligence (AI) last week because it got stuck on Christmas – The Hallmark Channel has been playing sappy Christmas films since before Halloween. I almost said no to screening Last Christmas just in revolt of the genre.
Thankfully, Last Christmas is far more Love Actually than Hallmark, from the very first scene.
Co-written by Emma Thompson (who also plays mom, Petra), the story and script feel modern, timely, and include some surprises throughout (cameos appreciated by only the nerdiest). Early on, the dialogue felt forced and rushed, but it evened out as the characters developed.
There are a couple of odd/questionable side storylines including some awkward staring moments between Santa (played by the formidable Michelle Yeoh) and romantic interest Klaus (played by John-Luke Roberts), but the good tended to outweigh the bad, which is really where the bar has been set for modern rom-coms.
The lead character of Kate is played by Emilia Clarke. (I am not a Game of Thrones fan and had never seen her work before!) Kate is in a low point in her life, grappling with the loss of attention that she grew up with; initially, as a talented singer and then, as a chronically ill patient who has come through the eye of the illness storm.
By grappling, I mean booze and boys. She is in couch-surfing mode but alienating herself from the friends she has relied upon. This includes her employer, Santa, who hired Kate as full time help for her year-round Christmas shop, but is now having second thoughts. Kate is a mess – albeit an adorable mess – in a green elf uniform.
Then Kate meets Tom (played by the ever-dreamy Henry Golding), a free-spirited bloke who has locked away his mobile phone. He keeps reminding Kate to always look up – his metaphor for being more aware in the world around her. Without a way to get in touch with Tom, Kate needs to develop patience and trust and reprioritize so that she can more regularly connect with him, despite their random way of running into one another. After a few sweet meet ups, and another sofa loss, Tom plays a role in getting Kate back to her family.
Kate has a complex relationship with her family, former Yugoslavian nationals who fled to London and are now pushing their dreams on to their daughters. Her successful sister Marta (played by Lydia Leonard) is resentful of the unconditional support and attention given to Kate, even when Kate is too self-absorbed to appreciate it. Her mom, Petra, does nothing but worry – about Kate and Brexit – too busy to take care of herself and is becoming estranged from her husband, Ivan (played by Boris Isakovic), a former lawyer turned mini-cab driver after their arrival to London.
There are some plot twists and turns, and overall, I felt it was an enjoyable watch. There is a whiff of 2000’s Return to Me (you’re welcome… it took me a couple of trailer watches to remember the title). The soundtrack is all George Michael, all the time, which turns out to be exactly what I wanted in a Christmas film soundtrack.
Last Christmas is for sure a movie that I will watch and keep watching every time I see it pop up on my TV, as I am rapidly scrolling by the Hallmark Channel.
Copyright ©2019 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: November 8, 2019.