Last Christmas really tried.
It really did.
It had the makings of a cute, cheesy Christmas romantic comedy. The film stars Emilia Clarke as a 20-something Londoner who lost her moral way after a life-changing surgery and Henry Golding as the man who helps her find her way back. It had the perfect cheesy formula and all perfectly wrapped during Christmas. The film even had a great supporting cast with Michelle Yeoh and Emma Thompson.
What many were hoping for a story similar to Love Actually (which Thompson also starred in) ended up with an awkward coming-of-age Brexit Christmas story.
In the film, Kate (Clarke) is working for a year-round Christmas shop owned by Santa (Yeoh), a tough boss with a heart of gold. Kate used to be filled with so much joy and a talented voice, but threw it all away after her heart surgery and ended up becoming a hot mess. Moving between friend’s couches, Kate finally cleans up after meeting the charismatic Tom (Golding). Of course, not everything is perfect. There has to be some twists and turns to this Christmas story and there are. It’s also painfully obvious about what is about to go down.
Sure, the plot is obvious, but it’s the journey that counts, right? This would be true for your typical Hallmark Christmas movie, but the film falls short on several other points. Although Clarke and Golding are adorable and quite charming on their own, their chemistry together is really lacking any heat.
Golding is a beautiful man and it’s easy to fall head over heels for the character with just his eyes gazing into your soul, but the entire time, he was giving off a ‘we’re just friends’ vibe. It felt like he was playing your best friend’s hot older brother who is sweet and easy to have a crush on, but they treat you like a little sister. It just did not work.
Thompson, who co-wrote the screenplay with Bryony Kimmings, played Kate’s endearing yet overbearing mother. It seems that Thompson gave herself the best lines and the biggest laughs. The rest of the film’s comedy felt forced and really awkward. Clarke is, again, a great actress and is so cute in the elf costume, but her comedic timing and expressions just fell flat.
Directed by Paul Feig, best known for his comedies Bridesmaids, Spy, and The Heat, Last Christmas felt more like a social commentary on politics and diversity than a love story. It was lovely seeing the inclusion of actors with disabilities and stories involving LGBTQ. Those add-ons were great as long as it does not take away from the romantic comedy and love story, even if the moral of the story is loving yourself.
Last Christmas opens in theaters this weekend.