LAST CHRISTMAS (3 out of 5) Directed by Paul Feig. Written by Emma Thompson, Bryony Kimmings; Starring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Emma Thompson; Rated PG-13 for language and sexual content; Running time 103 minutes; In wide release November 8, 2019.
Mother of Dragons no more, in Last Christmas Emilia Clarke takes on the role of Kate, a young woman living in London and dealing with the mess that is her life.
And though there is plenty of ice, in the form of a skating rink, and some fire, since Kate is unbelievably clumsy, this role takes her far from the Seven Kingdoms and is much more akin to her delightfully quirky character in Me Before You.
Nearly everything that could go wrong in Kate’s life does. Her relationships with her friends are strained; her sister hates her; her father avoids her mother while her mother smothers her with unwanted attention. It must be her cute weirdness that keeps her employed as an elf at a Christmas shop, because it isn’t her work ethic. She takes personal phone calls and leaves the store whenever the whim strikes her. On one such occasion she encounters Tom (Henry Golding), an eternal optimist who sees the potential in Kate, if she could get over herself for a minute.
Marketed as a romantic comedy, the film is really more about Kate finding her heart again after all the boozing,one-night stands and avoiding her mother’s phone calls. So Kate is more like the Grinch or Scrooge and less like the female lead in its marketed genre. But in spite of her self-absorption and multitude of mistakes, she is charming and likable and has the audience rooting for her to fix her life.
Written by Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings, Last Christmas takes its inspiration (with permission) from the Wham! song of the same name, as well as other George Michael hits. The result being that the song will be stuck in your head even days later, well before the holiday season officially arrives.
This film may not be for everyone. It does have a bit of that Hallmark movie feel, but in my advancing years I’ve found those to be strangely comforting, cynical though I am. But I also live and die by the Rudolph Christmas special and say “Bumbles Bounce” all season, so maybe I’m not as jaded as I’d like to think.
Will it please all audiences? No. Maybe some will find it too cute or hate the ending or find Kate intolerable. But it’s light and fun, and even the more heavy-handed moments are handled quite breezily, so you may just find yourself smiling throughout.