After a shoddily low amount of Christmas releases this year, Last Christmas feels like a twinkly fairy light shining in the dimmed light over older releases, bringing a fresh lease of life to the world of the Christmas movie. Written by the legendary Emma Thompson and Greg Wise, it explores Christmas through the eyes of George Michael’s music. Does it, however, give you the same feeling that the song Last Christmas does?
Last Christmas follows Kate, a lazy, grimy, unkempt woman, who works as an elf in an all year round Christmas shop. However, she has a dark past, and after overcoming a mysterious illness last year, she isn’t quite herself. After meeting Tom, a man described as having something ‘serial killery’ about him, Kate puts her trust in him to start the journey back to herself.
This movie is the swansong George Michael would have wanted. It immediately starts with a cover of his song ‘Heal the Pain’, which is played three times in a row on a dukebox by Kate in a bar. It’s a testament to her own feelings, as well as her love for George. Ultimately, all Kate wants is someone to heal the pain; she wants to be her old self again, living and loving everyone she did before, rather than bearing the brunt of a new found sense of self-hatred.
It’s an ooey-gooey movie, with moments to make you ‘aw’ coming out of every orifice. Overwhelmingly cheesy, gaudy and fun, it’s obvious that Emma Thompson and Paul Feig just wanted to enjoy themselves and surround themselves with people who do too. As cheesy as it is, it has a fair few laughs scattered throughout, some causing vague tittering, others causing outright laughter. It’s hit and miss, but it succeeds in getting you to feel something.
Sometimes that something isn’t just joy, either. This movie has it’s fair share of tear-inducing moments, welling up the eyes of even the most hardened soldier. However, even though it does bring a lump to your throat, it seems skin deep in some moments. The trauma that Kate has experienced is barely even pierced, and you can see how badly it wants to come through into the limelight. It doesn’t have its time, being moved on as quickly as it arrived, and never being spoken of again.
Kate’s relationship with Tom is also a fleeting affair. Although it happens throughout the majority of the movie, most of it is spent with her looking for him, and never really being able to find him. Despite this, their romance is the kind that gives you butterflies in your cinema chair and makes you smile uncontrollably – it makes you want to find something like that yourself.
One thing that has to be said, is that the character of Tom is near insufferable. He’s a lovely bloke, but he’s very annoying. Almost unbearably positive, to be honest – though it does make you wonder what it would be like if you acted like that all the time.
The end of this movie is a hard one. It’s either ridiculously surprising or completely expected, and is nowhere in between. The entire plot is given away by the title, but until the movie has been seen, you don’t fully realise this. Ultimately, this film has the biggest twist since the Sixth Sense, or falls about the same way as the rest of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies.
One thing that can be said is the inclusion of Michelle Yeoh is completely inspired. She’s hilarious, and you should see it for her fashion choices alone. Oh, and the Christmas gibbon.
As far as Christmas movies go, this is a good’un, but not the best. It takes a lot to break through that Christmas bubble, with a theme as serious as this, but it’s a brilliant effort on the part of Emma Thompson’s and Bryony Kimming’s script, and falls somewhere in the realm of Love Actually and the Holiday.
This is the perfect movie to watch when wrapped in a blanket, it’s raining outside and you’ve got a takeaway on the way. It’s a feel good movie, and although it’s not great from a cinematic point of view, it’s fun, and sometimes, that what you need.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Feeling festive, but not too much? Check out our picks for the top Christmas films for those of you who hate Christmas.