Last Christmas (2019)

Who doesn't have a little Christmas baggage?

Kate is a young woman who has a habit of making bad decisions, and her last date with disaster occurs after she accepts work as Santa's elf for a department store. However, after she meets Tom there, her life takes a new turn.

I'm not the biggest fan of straight-up romantic comedies (rom-coms). I don't think I absolutely love a film from this genre, and if I do, it probably doesn't solely belong to the rom-com's list (they could also be musicals, dramas, etc). Most of the times, I appreciate them enough to feel fulfilled. Very rarely, I feel totally disappointed or with a hate feeling towards one. Paul Feig delivered a couple of great comedies during his career (Bridesmaids, Spy), and the underrated/overlooked A Simple Favor, which I enjoyed very much. With Emma Thompson (Adelia) as both supporting actress and screenwriter, Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding as protagonists, Last Christmas grew on me in the week of its premiere, making me genuinely excited for its session.
This Christmas' movie sort of falls in the middle. I don't exactly "like" it that much, but I still left the theater happy and reasonably entertained. It actually possesses a dramatic tone deep within, but it never fully explores it, maintaining the lighthearted and festive vibe throughout most of its runtime. Clarke and Golding share amazing chemistry, and their scenes are very romantic, sweet, and emotional. However, it's more of the same. Last Christmas doesn't bring anything new since it follows the same cliches every other rom-com does.
Its only bold and different take on the story is a plot twist that raises too many logical questions. Instead of carrying an emotionally powerful impact, it merely delivers an initial shock that goes away once people start to really think about it. Nevertheless, I praise this storytelling choice. It's never easy to pull off a twist, but the truth is that if Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings didn't take this missed shot, I wouldn't have spent the whole trip back home thinking about the film. I would have probably forgotten it as soon as I got into the car. So, congrats on trying something different, even if it didn't quite work for me.
Thompson ultimately shines as Kate's mom, though. No missteps here. She's hilarious, and she has some of the funniest lines of the whole thing. Michelle Yeoh (Santa) also has a couple of fun moments, but her subplot feels a bit strained. Emilia Clarke incorporates the clumsiness and awkwardness of her character seamlessly. If you're familiar with Clarke's interviews and public persona, then you know that Kate is basically the over-the-top reflection of Clarke. Despite her lack of luck, she's still charming and a good person that went through a traumatic event that changed her life (duh). Golding is glamorous and perfect as expected, especially since his character needed precisely these attributes.
Their relationship grows in a not-so-realistic way, and while this might be justified by the last act's twist, other plot points are not. My main issue with the movie is really those last 20 minutes. In addition to the twist, every single subplot is closed like nothing happened. From a particular family situation regarding sexual orientation to Yeoh's entire side story, all are either solved off-screen or way too easily. It's a rollercoaster of good and bad writing decisions. It has a couple of exciting downwards slopes and tight turns, but most of it is a slow ride with nothing truly thrilling or astonishing.
Last Christmas tries to be "the next big thing" concerning Christmas classics, but it falls short of its goal. Boasting a fantastic cast, with two charming, compelling leads in Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, Paul Feig delivers a lighthearted, festive film, but stuffed with cliches and a twist that doesn't quite work. Emma Thompson shines as a supporting character but has some missteps in co-writing the story with Bryony Kimmings, showing significant struggles in tying up the loose threads left by the side stories. Despite its storytelling issues, it's a flick I recommend to anyone who loves seasonal movies with a beautiful message, some fun moments, and a score packed with our favorite George Michael's songs.
Rating: C+

Universal Pictures, Feigco Entertainment by Paul Feig, George Michael, Emma Thompson, Greg Wise, Bryony Kimmings.
Stars: Madison Ingoldsby, Emma Thompson, Boris Isakovic, Lucy Miller.

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Keywords: holiday london, england romantic comedy homeless shelter holiday season christmas santa's elves


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