With Thanksgiving soon approaching, it is safe to say the holiday season is coming into full swing. This means a steady stream of themed commercials, winter treats and Mariah Carey songs blasting on repeat.
It also means it is time to break out the holiday films, ranging from classics like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “White Christmas,” “A Christmas Story” or “Elf,” to the seemingly hundreds of movies the Hallmark Channel pumps out every year. So, with what seems like an over-saturation of holiday-themed movies, how can filmmakers even try to come up with new ideas for the season? Director Paul Feig and British actress and producer Emma Thompson turned to the stars of television favorites, “Game of Thrones” and “Crazy Rich Asians.”
Named after the classic song by Wham, “Last Christmas” follows the story of Kate née Katarina (Emilia Clarke), a Slavic immigrant who moved to London with her parents — her mother being played by Thompson herself — during the Bosnian genocide in the ’90s. Now in Britain during the year 2017, Kate struggles with her dreams of being a singer and resorts to spending her days working at a Christmas store that is open year-round, spending her nights drinking.
It is soon revealed that a lot of Kate’s sadness stems from a surgery she had the year before. Since then, she hasn’t been optimistic about anything and seems to mess up on just about everything. However, while working at the store, run by a Chinese immigrant named Santa played by Michelle Yeoh — who has starred in several famous kung fu films as well as the mother in “Crazy Rich Asians” — she ends up meeting Tom — Henry Golding from “Crazy Rich Asians.” Tom is the exact opposite of Kate. Everything in his life seems to just go completely right. He is always busy working in some way, at a volunteer job at a homeless shelter or riding his bike. However, he is not constantly accessible to Kate. He always shows up when she really needs a boost of positivity. As he continues to push her to be more optimistic about life, they partake in the usual holiday meet-cute activities like ice skating or exploring a festive London she has not really experienced.
While much of the film contains this sort of basic holiday film plot, there are a few interesting points. It focuses a lot on the current immigration situation in the U.K. As mentioned before, it is set pre-Brexit, and signs of xenophobia are certainly present. However, the cast is widely diverse, which really allows for a counter to the anti-immigration sentiments. It is a little strange seeing Thompson trying to use a Slavic accent, but that was her production choice.
What is also interesting is that the movie is somewhat based around the Wham song, “Last Christmas.” There are several instances woven within the soundtrack. It is also important to remember the fact that George Michael was the lead member of Wham, and he happened to die on Christmas the year before the film takes place. While it does feel a little forced, it ties together in the end in an interesting way.
The part of the film that has most people talking is the plot twist towards the end of the movie. Although it is a bit ridiculous, it fits in with the Christmas theme pretty well. Overall, “Last Christmas” probably isn’t going to become a new family tradition like “Elf,” but given the cast, a solid rom-com script and an ending that is sure to cause a stir in the house, it’s definitely worth seeing at least once.