Last Christmas benefits from chemistry between Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding while taking inspiration from the George Michael song of the same name.
Following the opening in Yugoslavia 1999, the film flash-forwards to London 2017. Kate (Emilia Clarke) works as an elf for Santa (Michelle Yeoh) in a Christmas store open all year long. This is what she does for work when she’s not trying to land gigs as a singer. While cleaning the windows one day, Kate spots Tom (Henry Golding) outside and there’s something about him that captures her eye.
For a comedy, this film has quite the family drama! Kate’s mom, Petra (Emma Thompson), would rather Kate be utilizing her talents than wasting life away. Kate can’t even keep a roommate much less a relationship! Her dad, Ivan (Boris Isakovic), would rather stay busy driving a cab than come inside to sleep in the same bedroom as Petra. Compared to Kate, older sister Marta (Lydia Leonard) is the daughter that Petra is proud of.
I’m not going to lie in that the film hits many beats of the classic romantic comedy. At the same time, Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings’ script makes sure that the film isn’t too full of genre cliches. Regardless, there’s enough here for rom-com lovers to enjoy.
But for all the familiar beats that the film touches upon, there’s a message being sent by way of Tom. His mantra is “Look up.” This is a guy that doesn’t even use his cell phone. While the rest of us walk around looking at a phone in our palm, he’s out there living his life. He’s a fish out of water in many ways. Politically speaking, the world in the film isn’t too far away from our own. We see how an immigrant family responds to the Brexit movement.
One thing that the LGBTQ community should appreciate about Last Christmas is the inclusion of a lesbian couple. Not surprisingly, this does come with some family tension. However, this is a refreshing change from the norm. This also speaks to how tough it is to come out to one’s own family.
Emilia Clarke delivers a charming performance. One can only hope she considers more comedies down the road. The actress can also sing, too!
Meanwhile, Henry Golding is back in a leading role following last summer’s blockbuster hit, Crazy Rich Asians. There’s also some fan service in the film to those who would like Golding to take over as James Bond. It’s a fun easter egg, I must say. Golding is clearly having fun in the comedy with the dancing and all.
On the casting front, I love that Rebecca Root is included. This comes at a time when transgender talent need more work. I just wish that the actress had more screen time in the film. She gets a few lines but when all is said and done, it’s just not enough screen time at the end of the day when GLAAD takes a look at transgender inclusion in film. However, the fact that there’s any transgender talent in the film is still win at the end of the day. This is more than what can be said about the large majority of studio films!
It might take some time but Last Christmas could potentially be a classic in the making.
DIRECTOR: Paul Feig
SCREENWRITERS: Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings
CAST: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, and Emma Thompson