Last Christmas review – is Emilia Clarke’s movie a festive treat?


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Last Christmas review - is Emilia Clarke's movie a festive treat?
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Last Christmas review – is Emilia Clarke’s movie a festive treat?

It’s been a while since we’ve had a truly great festive movie, so there was hope that Last Christmas could be the one to become the new perennial favourite.

The ingredients are certainly all there: it’s inspired by the Wham! classic of the same name (as well as other George Michael hits), it’s co-written by the always wonderful Emma Thompson and it has a delightful lead couple in Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding.

Yet it doesn’t all quite come together for a true Christmas classic, even if it wears its tinsel firmly on its sleeve. There’s plenty of festive feels in Last Christmas, but it’s hard to imagine you returning to it year after year.

last christmas, emilia clarke, henry golding

Universal

In her first major role since Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke stars as the cynical and sarcastic Kate (Grinch! Scrooge!) who works in a year-round Christmas shop called Yuletide.

Since a mystery illness saw her nearly die, Kate has lost her way in life and has been increasingly alienating all those around her. Enter Tom (Henry Golding), who arrives in her life at her lowest ebb and starts to break through Kate’s barriers.

With Christmas just around the corner and romance in the air, will Kate realise that sometimes you gotta have faith?

Much like Danny Boyle’s high-concept rom-com Yesterday earlier this year, you’ll know whether Last Christmas is a movie for you from the trailer alone. And if that’s the case, you’ll find plenty to enjoy.

last christmas, emilia clarke

Universal

Emilia Clarke – perfect in a quirky and endearing role that seems tailor-made for her – and Henry Golding share an easy chemistry, even though Golding is saddled with a fairly one-note character.

The jokes come at a steady pace, including some excellent cutaway gags, and the romantic moments mostly tread the fine line between cheesy and cute successfully.

Needless to say, the soundtrack featuring several George Michael classics is strong and fits organically with the movie rather than the songs being shoehorned in. It’s also quite nice to sit through the credits not to see if there’s a post-credits scene, but to hear a previously-unheard track.

When ‘Last Christmas’ finally gets its full airing as Kate sings it, there won’t be a dry eye in the house – although that might be more down to the memory of George Michael, as good as Clarke’s rendition is.

last christmas, emilia clarke, henry golding

Universal

There’s nothing to particularly surprise you in Last Christmas, though, and the story isn’t quite strong enough. This is especially felt during the final act when you know exactly where it’s heading, but you’ve still got to sit through a succession of sequences that are all variations on the same idea.

What is a surprise, albeit an unwelcome one, is an unsubtle Brexit subplot that jars with the rest of the movie.

We get what co-writers Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings were trying to do – making a political point in the prism of a Christmas movie – but it needed to be done with more nuance and less exposition. The movie is more successful in highlighting another social issue of homelessness, as it manages to make it form a necessary part of the plot.

last christmas, emilia clarke, emma thompson

Universal

Still, Last Christmas manages deliver that essential Christmas movie ingredient: a heartwarming finale. It’s predictable, but contains a nice message and will leave you feeling all warm and festive as you leave the cinema.

And really, isn’t that the most important thing?

Last Christmas is in cinemas now.

Director: Paul Feig; Starring: Emilia Clarke, Emma Thompson, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh; Running time: 103 minutes; Certificate: 12A

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