Kate (Emilia Clarke) has grown cynical and disconnected. By day she works as an assistant dressed as an elf at a year-round Christmas store owned by "Santa" (Michelle Yeoh), then she eats fast food, drinks heavily, and spends every night with a different guy. By chance, she meets Tom (Henry Golding) outside the store one day and he shows her a different way of living.
Emilia Clarke previously demonstrated in ‘Me Before You’ that she can do roles outside the Mother of Dragons, aka Daenerys Targaryen of ‘Game of Thrones’. Here, she proves her talent and range yet again. In fact, she is the best thing about the movie and arguably is really the only element that keeps you engaged. Her sharp tongue, sarcasm and joke-cracking nature – similar to Yeoh’s Santa, an amusing addition– are balanced well by Golding’s straighter optimist. However, charming though they are individually, the actors’ chemistry and the romantic scenes they share never take off.
Emma Thompson, meanwhile, plays Clark’s Yugoslav mother, a traditional, controlling woman who lectures her children and does weird Slavic things that apparently include singing your grown daughter to sleep. Even Thompson, brilliant as she normally is, fails to bring the laughs and the political commentary on Brexit and its psychological impact on immigrants seems shoved in.
The second half of ‘Last Christmas’ turns into that “let’s put on a show” narrative common to Christmas classics old and new such as ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Nativity’. The film seems confused about what it wants to be, or perhaps it is attempting to be too many things between cheesy Christmas movie, family drama, comedy and romance. It fails to move its audience and is never, to be honest, particularly interesting. And then there’s that twist which, for crying out loud, is so dumb that one disengages entirely. Look, you can see how it thinks it’s romantic, but it simply does not work.
So who is ‘Last Christmas’ for? Well, people who love every kind of Christmas movie, one supposes, as bad holiday movies tend to be forgiven as a result of the good cheer associated with the season. George Michael fans will also be happy to hear his music throughout, even if the songs never quite fit into the soundtrack the way they should.