I have a message for those hoping that “Last Christmas” is an instant holiday classic: prepare to be disappointed. This unfunny, jumbled, and contrived movie, said to have been inspired by the George Michael song of the same name, is an absolute clunker.
Kate’s (Emilia Clarke) life is a total mess. A series of very bad decisions has landed her without a place to lay her head and a bore of a job as an elf-clad assistant at a year-round Christmas shop in Covent Garden. Her boss (Michelle Yeoh) doesn’t like her, her mom Petra (Emma Thompson) annoys her with constant worrying, and her attorney sister Marta (Lydia Leonard) thinks she’s wasting her life. When handsome Tom (Henry Golding) walks into her life, he seems too good to be true. He’s absolutely perfect, but of course he has plenty of secrets of his own.
Tom is the perfect Manic Pixie Dream Boy and Kate is a girl you want to root for. The two leads have a decent enough chemistry, but Clarke is the real standout. She has a bright future as a rom-com star. She’s delightful and charming, with a lovely comedic timing. What’s so disappointing is that her breezy, charismatic performance is held back by the film’s story and pacing. She deserves a much better vehicle to showcase her talents.
There is no reason for this film to have a Christmas theme or to be set in late December. It’s just a cheap way to sell tickets to a supposed “holiday movie.” The script, penned by Thompson, is dreadful. It lacks focus with too many jumbled subplots rambling all over the place. The disjointed story tries to be too many things at once, including a comedy, a drama, and a romance, and somehow manages to fail at all of them. Even worse, it’s too serious and not very fun — an element that most consider a holiday movie must-have. The film is at its best when it goes for the laughs early on, but quickly turns into a dreadfully slow and boring drama and a ho-hum romance.
Of course Tom has a mysterious secret but once it is revealed, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, especially in relation to Kate. I can’t say more because it would spoil the surprise, but this is one of those films with a gaping plot hole that raises a ton of new questions instead of answering the ones already presented.
That’s not where the screenplay’s missteps end.
There are forced dramatic situations and strange, inexplicable, liberal-minded story arcs that are forced into the story to fill gaps in the script (including a bizarre Brexit subplot, homosexual relationships and gay rights, and the current hot-button issue of immigration). There’s even an off-putting scene of homeless and disabled people auditing for a talent show that’s played for laughs. It feels so gross.
You’d be better off asking Santa for a lump of coal in your stocking than wasting money on this mess of a movie.