|Marketed as a romantic comedy with the possibility of a twist, most viewers are shrewd enough to know that Last Christmas does indeed have a twist, otherwise the movie would be about nothing. And nothing is generally not enough to win audiences over. All three things are going on in this movie: it is a romantic comedy, except very light on the romance. There is a twist, more on that later. And apart from the twist, nothing happens. That’s not entirely fair, but the main issue is how slight the movie is in terms of plot and story.||2019 |
Directed by: Paul Feig
Screenplay by: Emma Thompson, Bryony Kimmings
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding
Let’s start at the beginning. Emilia Clarke stars as Kate, a 26-year-old woman couch-surfing. She used to be 10-year-old Katerina, a child prodigy, and a product of former-Yugoslavian emigrants. But Kate hates everything about her life, her former life, her current life, and she’s working very hard to destroy the possibility of better future life. She drinks every night, has disastrous one-night stands, works as an elf in a Christmas store, and ignores phone calls from her family. From the little that Kate tells us, she used to be sick, and apart from the obvious that everyone should take care of themselves better than she does, she most definitely should.
Eventually she meets Tom (Henry Golding). He’s slightly odd, but utterly charming, and Kate can’t help but fall for his charms. Tom is nice – perhaps too nice? Tom is pretty much a perfect man – he’s good looking, he’s funny, he’s smart, he’s caring, he’s non-judgemental. Kate is bewitched by this man who shouldn’t be as perfect as he is. It takes her awhile to warm up to him, continuing living her non-perfect life, but eventually she can’t stop thinking about his charms.
At this point, those who have watched the trailer, or read the plot, or read the above description, have their own idea of what the twist is. The only further thing I’ll say is that I liked it. It’s not as tragic as it could be, and it does become pretty clear about half-way through.
Now onto the movie, Emilia Clarke owns the screen. She is delightful, funny, a sympathetic mess. Kate is a person you can both laugh at and root for, and Clarke effortlessly carries the entire movie. Last Christmas is only somewhat a romantic comedy, but it is a charming movie about human nature, and about how to get yourself to make better choices. It would make a great pairing with Brittany Runs a Marathon.
Typically, romantic comedies without romance or movies that rely entirely on charm and a twist, won’t make it. I also don’t like it when actresses like Emma Thompson put on a fake Eastern European accent just to make fun of that type of immigrant, but it worked. Her scenes were funny and helped round out the sweetness of the movie.