Last Christmas is charming and weird, with director Paul Feig embracing the cheesy Hallmark feel, yet still managing to get a warm performance out of Emilia Clarke and an ending that gives the film a surprising boost.
Bridesmaids and The Heat director Paul Feig returns with a family-friendly Christmas comedy, Last Christmas, featuring Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding and Michelle Yeoh. Yes, Last Christmas is as sappy and weird as you’d think, fully embracing its cliches and Hallmark Movie feel, but Clarke’s charming performance elevates the entire film, while the script throws in a few last-minute surprises to make the film at the very least feel like a harmless slice of humbling to take in over the Holiday season.
Kate (Emilia Clarke) is a self-destructing time bomb of pity, wasting her talents and abilities after a medical surgery failed to put her life into perspective. Instead of living each day in hope and appreciation, she squanders her gifts on junk food, alcohol, cheap men and a dead-end job at a Christmas shop, despite not really caring about anyone else other than herself.
She runs into a mysterious man named Tom (Henry Golding) that forces her to reflect a bit more on her life and the choices that she makes, which becomes a turning point as Kate slowly realizes just how important and valuable being able to live is and how the people we share this world with are just as special and grateful, if you allow them to be.
Last Christmas feels like the last film you’d think R-rated comedy director Paul Feig would make, especially after showing us his edge with A Simple Favor. Yet here we are, at the beginning of the Holiday season with a film that feels very much like something on the Hallmark Channel or a Netflix Original.
I don’t mean offense to those films as they have their own fans and while those films aren’t for me, I can see their safe appeal and cheap warmth as a drawing factor to those that embrace and enjoy them — more power to you, folks!
Last Christmas does offer one thing that most of those films don’t — Emilia Clarke. I know most praise her for her work in Game of Thrones, but I absolutely adore Clarke’s efforts in other genres, because she has a quirky, yet lovableness to her that is infectious and she tends to make typical romantic comedies better than they rightfully should be.
She absolutely killed it in Me Before You, despite that film’s bullshit final moments, and here she is yet again with another memorable performance that shows her range and ability.
This time around, she’s a miserable mess that’s self-destructing at an alarming rate, failing to take responsibility for her own actions and failing to appreciate and understand the second chance that she was given.
Clarke’s inner-Scrooge is no match for Henry Golding‘s can-do attitude and positivity, which makes their interactions a major draw of this film.
Watching Clarke’s character progress throughout the film, despite its predictability, brings forth a warm feeling that you know is leading towards something and Feig’s reveal is far from shocking, but definitely a well-needed surprise in this otherwise forgettable plot.
Emma Thompson and Greg Wise penned the story, with a the script co-written by Thompson and Bryony Kimmings. I will credit the team with creating a familiar Holiday romance that occasionally tries to poke past its sappiness for a few serious bits, the film definitely comments on the negativity of Brexit and how immigrants are treated poorly just about everywhere in the world, but most of the film’s serious matter is sort of rolled up into one happily-packaged ending that reinforces the notion of appreciating your own life and being grateful for those around you.
Aka the world just runs better if there’s less hate and more love.
Not a bad message, especially to hear in this day and age, but not exactly the deepest written script.
Still, director Paul Feig makes the film visually engaging, with the bright and cheery feeling of the Holidays counteract the sometimes dark and damp-looking London.
Last Christmas is a film that very much feels like the product of the 90s or “simpler” times, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. It uses this familiar approach to add a bit of relevancy, while also sending a positive message. That fact, paired with a welcoming performance by Emilia Clarke and a brief, but still kind appearance by Henry Golding makes for a Holiday film that I am not afraid to say that I enjoyed and would probably revisit again during the Christmas rotation.