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Published On: Wed, Nov 6th, 2019

‘Last Christmas’ Review: Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding star in a sweet, upgraded Hallmark film

A romantic comedy released for the holidays seems like a great idea, as Universal tapped Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding to co-star in Last Christmas, a sweet film with a simple message of good will and kindness.

Clarke (Games of Thrones, Terminator: Genisys) plays Kate, an unhappy Londoner, who works year round as an elf in a Christmas shop specializing in bizarre and weird holiday oddities (run by Michelle Yeoh’s “Santa”). Kate meets Tom (Golding) who lives by a life principle of “Look Up” and being kind and her world is quickly challenged and changed forever.

Kate’s dysfunctional family fuels her self-imposed misery and constant conflict, as she attempts to build a relationship with Tom and embrace the joy which comes from being selfless. While romance is in the air, the film is more concerned about what’s inside of Kate’s heart.

Last Christmas is set against George Michael (Wham!) music and presses the audience towards a spirit of Christmas…a time of giving…a time of charity and love.

If Last Christmas sounds like every Hallmark Movie, well…director Paul Feig’s attempts to escape the tropes and cliches bogging down the films on Hallmark, the Bridemaids filmmaker succeeds in taking the audience directly into that genre.

Emma Thompson stars as Petra, Kate’s mom, and co-wrote the script with Bryony Kimmings, borrowing altruistic themes from Paddington or a Mary Poppins film, with serious messages muddled into the plot.

For example, there is an awkward train encounter with a bigoted man exiting after screaming at the foreigners on to speak English or go home. There is a quiet nod to Kate’s sister gay relationship and their homophobic parents. Kate’s entire lifestyle just wreaks of a Millennial following her dreams rather than growing up.

Last Christmas seems lost around the unlikable Kate. She’s an alcoholic tramp, taking advantage of her friends for a nightly crash and evades her parents to “follow” her dream with poorly executed auditions.

The audience will struggle to empathize with Kate, wanting to yell at her to just grow up.

There is a plot twist, which nearly saves the film, until the gravitas of the theory really sinks in and you’re thrust back into Hallmark territory (no offense to their brand).

The close of the film, Kate’s “big moment” comes with all of the fulfillment of an 80’s film, without any of the nuance, complete with dancing and unrealistic cliches.

Last Christmas may have sounded good on paper, but when combined the George Michael music for “on point” moments synced with the lyrics, the film collapses onto itself. Even when there are solid moments, Michael’s music pulls the audience out of each moment — the use of “Father Figure” was truly uncomfortable.

Clarke performs better than some of her other roles (Solo or Terminator), but nothing special. Golding is engaging and entertaining early in the first act of the film before his character becomes Kate’s therapist and “unboyfriend,” a big letdown compared to his role in Crazy Rich Asians.

Yeoh’s Santa, aka Kitty, aka Muffin, etc… calling Kate “Elf” and her love interest “Boy,” was a scene stealer for me and a highlight of the film.

Overall, Last Christmas is a clean film (some minor cussing throughout), with a sweet message and some humorous parts. It’s a worthy “Date Night” film in the weeks ahead, but not a contender to fend off competition from future releases.

Last Christmas earns 4 stars out of 10.

 

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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