Who doesn’t love Christmas? It’s a time of jolly, cheer and romance if one were lucky. Last Christmas is a romantic comedy that arrives just ahead of schedule for the holiday season and promises a sweet Christmas romance to get people in the theaters and maybe shed some tears. While I didn’t shed any tears for the romance, I did want to punch a hole in the screen when the movie was over. Let this be a warning to you.
Kate (Emilia Clarke) is a down on her luck young lady living in London. She’s apparently homeless, although the movie never explains why she lost her residence or has no money to afford housing. Her life isn’t going so well. She works in a Santa shop that sells toys and knick-knacks run by a woman who literally calls herself “Santa” (Michele Yeoh). She doesn’t have a relationship that brings her happiness with the exception of several one-nights stands that I suppose satisfies her needs, but has no one to hold onto for support; not even her family. She even dresses up as an Elf in the shop she works and even has little bells on her shoes.
Kate has aspirations to become a singer and perform on stage but she lacks the confidence to really give it her all when she steps in front of the judges. She solves her misery with drinking and the occasional fling, which she brings up later to her friends with the response “How your sex life?” One day she sees a nice looking man outside her shop. He’s not like most people. His name is Tom (Henry Golding) and he takes a liking to her. He asks her out on a stroll (later a date) and is not only nice to Kate, but offers her quite a challenge.
I really enjoyed watching the chemistry between Clarke and Golding, as it flowed quite naturally. Tom is the opposite of Kate is almost every way, and when they bump into each, that’s when the magic works. I do appreciate the film’s restraint for not having these characters jump into bed with each other from the start, instead opting for them to get to know each other. Tom listens to her, give her advice even when she doesn’t want to hear it and, at times, annoys her. Their scenes together are some of the high points of the film. Seeing them on the screen together are the moments I enjoyed the most.
The movie does open doors to other plot lines such as Kate’s complicated family who fled Yugoslavia, the strained relationship with her sister, and even a plot point which sees Kate finding a date for Santa (her boss). It’s almost feels like a TV sitcom almost in the vein of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but that film was a total blast while Last Christmas offers laughs that be either a hit of miss. There’s even a Christmas themed play that features the homless as well.
While I liked a good amount of the film there is something you should know. There’s a plot twist that has been mentioned if you haven’t heard about it already. I only mention this because this is where the movie takes a wrong turn. The twist itself feels like a cheap shot and for the audience you’ll either accept it or you’ll feel exasperated. My reaction was the latter. This movie is marketed as a romantic comedy so I’m puzzled as to why the filmmakers chose this twist. I get what they were going for but, when you stop to think about it, it raises a lot of questions.
Score 1.5 out of 5 Stars
Last Christmas is well-acted movie and features likable leads who share wonderful chemistry but the film is undermined by the ending. It’s a rip-off and I don’t appreciate what the filmmakers did with it. The movie does offer some laughs but ultimately I can’t recommend it simply because the twist at the end will surely confuse audiences if not anger them for wasting their time. I hope you don’t pay money to experience an ending such as this one had. If the movie played it safe with a more typical ending, then Last Christmas would’ve gotten a thumbs up from me, but as it stands, please avoid this Christmas love story like I’ll be avoiding the lines on Black Christmas.