TITLE: Last Christmas
DIRECTOR: Paul Feig
SCREENWRITER: Emma Thompson, Bryony Kimmings
STARS: Emilia Clarke, Emma Thompson, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh
RUNTIME: 102 minutes
CINEMATIC RELEASE DATES: Australia (7th November 2019), UK (15th November 2019), Thailand (10th December 2019), USA (8th November 2019)
HOME ENTERTAINMENT RELEASE DATES: Australia (TBA)
CLASSIFICATIONS: Australia (PG), Thailand (TBC), UK (12A), USA (PG-13)
With the rise of the Boxing Day blockbusters has come the demise of the Christmas movie. When I was a child… still a very young film buff… the Christmas movies was the one thing you could look forward to each December… aside from the visit from the jolly fat man on Christmas morning. As a youngster I can remember heading to the Cameo to see Bushfire Moon and can remember the excitement of opening up a present to discover a book of Santa Clause: The Movie, the film I had fallen in love with just a couple of weeks before.
That trend maybe about to change though because one of the best Christmas movies to be released in years is about to hit cinemas. Over recent times the Christmas films that have normally been released have either been aimed at younger children or just haven’t matched up to the quality of the Christmas films of the past… that changes though with Last Christmas – a heartfelt film with a script that is an absolute beauty.
Directed by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat) Last Christmas tells the story of Kate (Emilia Clarke – Game Of Thrones, Me Before You) a young woman who is on the road to recovery after a major health issue landed her in hospital. She is not recovering in the normal way though as her she slumped into a cloud of depression as she couch-surfs as she can’t bring herself to move back home with her over-bearing mother, Petra (Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks, Love Actually), who has never really accepted that life has changed since the family emigrated to England.
Kate’s depression is affecting all aspects of her life, she finds herself drifting from meaningless sexual encounter to meaningless sexual encounter while her boss, Santa (Michelle Yeoh – Crazy Rich Asians, Tomorrow Never Dies), has even noticed that her work in the beautiful Christmas Shop where she plays an elf has also been affected. Kate’s dreary life soon starts to change though when she meets the mysterious Tom (Henry Golding – Crazy Rich Asians, A Simple Favor) – a man who teaches her that often the small things in life are the things that will make you the happiest.
A quick read through that plot and you could be forgiven for thinking that Last Christmas could be yet another stock-standard romantic comedy with some Christmas trees and tinsel thrown in for good measure. That couldn’t be further from the truth though. Somehow the script, which is written by Emma Thompson (who many may not realise wrote films like Nanny McPhee and Bridget Jones’s Baby) and first time screenwriter Bryony Kimmings manages to find the right mix of romance, drama and Christmas cheer while exploring topics as vast as dysfunctional families and homelessness while delivering an unforeseen twist that will not leave a dry eye in the cinema.
What the screenplay of Last Christmas manages to deliver in nothing short of a Christmas miracle in itself. This is not the kind of film that you will simply forget as soon as you leave the cinema, this is the kind of film that will stay with you and have you thinking about the strong messages that shine through throughout the film. There is no easier way to say it other than Last Christmas is destined to become a Christmas classic that will be watched year after year in the vein of films like Love Actually and It’s A Wonderful Life.
The film sees Paul Feig put some of his recent duds behind him as he recaptures that magic that made Bridesmaids such a wonderful film. Once again he manages to get the best out of his cast. Smart film lovers will have already realised that Emilia Clarke has a career outside of Game Of Thrones thanks to her brilliant performance in Me Before You. With Last Christmas though Clarke seems to take her acting to a whole different level. Here she mixes comedy and drama in such way that she makes a truly remarkable film even more special. At times in the film her character is put through an emotional wringer but despite that as an actress she stays on top of her game and shares a remarkable on screen chemistry with her love interest Henry Golding who again shows why he should be considered one of Hollywood’s finest leading men at the moment.
In a world where a lot of soulless films hit our big screens we should savour a film like Last Christmas that is a throwback to the old-school films that made us fall in love with cinema. With a heartfelt plot and a little bit of cinema magic thrown in for good measure Last Christmas deserves to be labelled a Christmas classic. This is one for the ages.