Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 43 minutes, Director – Paul Feig
A Christmas shop elf, Kate (Emilia Clarke), begins to roam the streets of London with a mysterious stranger, Tom (Henry Golding)
Wham!’s Last Christmas is undoubtedly one of the biggest Christmas songs of all time, next to Mariah Carey it’s possibly one of the seasons most heavily rotated tracks. It also seems to be the only song that anyone in the Emma Thompson co-written (with Bryony Kimmings) Last Christmas has heard of, next to Jingle Bells. Every brightly-coloured (like the wine selection of The Crown in Hot Fuzz, either red or white) high-pitched novelty item in the all-year Christmas shop that central figure Kate (Emilia Clarke) works at seems to have the song available to play at the push of a button.
It’s been made clear that Last Christmas is very much inspired by the music of Wham! and George Michael – almost every transition between scenes or moment of casual happiness for Clarke’s generally unorganised character is set to a brief snippet of a song from either name. Kate is a disorganised dispassionate figure, prone to breaking friendships with her clumsy mistakes, spending most of her time drinking in bars before going home with whoever will chat her up, simply so she has a place to sleep for the night. All this due to her apparent broken relationship with her out of control mother (Emma Thompson), a traditional former Yugoslavian, who she refuses to go back home to.
However, it’s not long until; in common London-based rom-com style, that Kate bumps into a handsome stranger, the mysterious Tom (Henry Golding). Initially the two bump into each other outside Kate’s work at an all-year round Christmas shop, run by a strict Michelle Yeoh (apparently named Santa), where she dresses in a bright green elf costume, while she’d rather be working on the stage, her passion for singing stemming back to her childhood. Gradually the pair begin to bump into each other all across London, roaming the streets and alleyways of the nighttime scene of the brightly-lit city flooded with Christmas decorations. As the two get to know each other more the film ticks off a quickly increasing amount of cliches, in terms of both gags and the overall storyline.
But, despite this it seems that Kate’s life is still taking many turns for the worst, as she gets closer to Tom she begins to become increasingly upset about his constant random appearing and disappearing, alongside her multiple failed auditions and stresses with her family. Amongst all of this somehow Thompson and Kimmings try to crowbar in themes for a more contemporary feel, such as xenophobia rising up as the result of Brexit – something which is only briefly displayed for a small amount of time in the final stages of the film. All building up to asking whether all of this is her fault or not, whether she needs to have a change of heart like Scrooge or not. All leading towards a predictable storyline and eventual finale that never properly engages the viewer or captures their imagination in any form of emotional or entertaining way.
Much of the film seems to simply be rather lazily constructed, filled with convention and predictability. Leading to it lacking in any form of overall festive cheer, laughs or general uniqueness. It all simply falls flat and results as an unengaging and rather uninspiring piece that while its heart might be in the right place all other elements certainly aren’t.
Last Christmas is an extremely cliched film, lacking in laughs and any form of major festive spirit. If it shares anything with the festive season it’s turkey.