Last Christmas Review

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart.

That’s all I need to hear to know the holidays are just around the corner – but even I wouldn’t have guessed George Michael’s lyrics would become the inspiration behind an Emma Thompson penned film of the same name.

Kate is a mess – a hot mess, but still a one woman disaster zone.

She bounces around from place to place, friend to friend and lover to lover – forever finding new and innovative ways to outstay her welcome.

Like half of London, Kate is an aspiring actor and – just like most performers – our heroine’s clearly looking for something that she’s lost along her way.

For now though, she’ll settle for distracting herself with some self-inflicted drama.

Kate’s only real constants in her ever changing life are Santa… her middle aged employer who runs an all-year-round Christmas shop in the heart of soho – other Santa’s are available, especially at this time of year.

And the elf costume Kate wears for work.

That is until a tall handsome stranger cycles by Santa’s shop and catches our would be elf’s eye.

This is Tom and, as soon becomes clear, he seems too good to be true.

But for Kate, who’s been drowning on dry land, Tom is exactly who she’s been looking for.

Based around the music of George Michael – in particular, one festive Wham ditty – Last Christmas is a holiday rom com treat with a twist.

Written and starring Emma Thompson, and directed by Bridesmaids’ Paul Feig, Last Christmas is a feel good story about one woman’s journey towards love and, ultimately, acceptance – even if what she has to learn to love and accept is herself.

As I understand it, even some multi million selling, award-winning pop icons have a hard time getting there.

Emilia Clarke plays Kate and, having asked around, it turns out the mother of dragons is a pretty divisive choice.

Some people think Clarke has the acting ability of a plank – mostly other women.

And some people just don’t care whether Emilia can act or not – mostly me.

For some mad reason, I find it hard not to feel protective of Clarke – I mean, it’s hard enough being taken away from your homeland as a wee bairn before getting sold into sexual slavery by your own brother, without people passing judgment on your Shakespearean chops at every chance.

For me though, Clarke’s girl-next-door-hiding-a-secret-behind-her-smile vibe works perfectly in her role as Kate.

She is in pretty much every scene though – so if you subscribe to the aforementioned plank theory, Last Christmas may not take you to the edge of heaven.

Crazy Rich Asians’ leading man Henry Golding is perfectly charming as Tom, while Thompson plays Kate’s overbearing Czech immigrant mother for laughs – with a thick comedy accent to boot.

But the real star, along with Clarke and Golding, is the music of George Michael.

Again, if you’re not a fan of his – first, give your head a wobble, but Last Christmas is not the film for you.

But if you are a fan, and London is what you think of when you think of home, Last Christmas is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

It’s a fitting tribute to a man who, whether through his music or random acts of kindness and generosity that came out after his death, went out of his way to put a smile on people’s faces.

In these dark times we’re living though, when it can be hard to love because there’s so much to hate, I think we could all do with a little more George Michael to hold on to in our lives.

Jonathan Campbell

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