On hearing that British icon Emma Thompson had co-written with her husband Greg Wise a film based on the famous festive Wham hit I was rather intrigued. Was everything Ok at home Emma, wouldn’t another, maybe seasonal, ‘Nanny McPhee‘ have been a safer bet? But I have enjoyed worse premises, so maybe with a sprinkle of Christmas joy alongside a George Micheal soundtrack could work…maybe?
Opening in the former Yugoslavia, with our lead Kate (Emila Clarke) singing George Micheal’s ‘ Heal The Pain‘ at a school concert before zooming off to the year 2016. Sadly Kate is quickly running out of friends to put her up, due to her drinking and one night stands, and struggling to juggle her life as an elf in a Covent Garden Christmas store and going for auditions to be a singer. This very attractive, talented white female just can’t catch a break until she spots an unusual very handsome man called Tom (Henry Golding) outside her shop window. After our first quirky conversation of the movie, and both parties firmly saying that they aren’t each others types, they of course can’t stop bumping into one another and even though Kate is all about her self and her phone and he is all about volunteering at homeless shelters and making sure he is always looking up and noticing the world – they begin to connect, Isn’t life crazy, like that?
Here we have the usual scenes of couples breaking into ice rinks late at night, chatting for an age together whilst a patient bus driver waits and sitting in one of those secret London gardens sharing stories. But there is a catch – Tom is so aloof, not only has he locked his phone in a cupboard, but sometimes vanishes for days – even the homeless shelter cant track him down. What’s Kate gonna do and is she gonna make her family meal and clear up a family in crisis and is she going to get that audition and hey will her uptight Asian boss Santa (Michelle Yeoh) going to start dating the odd European man who comes in from time to time?
Keeping it spoiler-free, this is a film full of rom-com cliches saving the odd twist. The music is great and London in December looks beautiful and brings back memories of The Spice Girls ‘2 Becomes One’ video. And that is all of the positives out of the way, Last Christmas makes very little sense and feels like a first draft that was accidentally filmed before they could work out to solve all the plot-holes and chunky dialogue, there are so many unfinished narratives, way more than Love Actually, why bother with Brexit if you are going to only bother to have 2 scenes that mention it, why are the family from Yugoslavia, wouldn’t it make sense for them to be Greek and have another link to George Micheal?
Did Emma Thompson just want to show off her East European accent whilst playing the put-upon worried mother? And on the subject of Yugoslavia, if Kate is 26 in 2016 how was she able to be a school child at the start of the film if Yugoslavia dissolved in 1992? Most importantly its a bit odd for a film that is so drastically linked to Wham and George Michael that they barely mention the band in the entire film, apart from Kate mentioning she is a fan once. The Wham connection seems secondary and the film could have had a completely different soundtrack would have not had an effect on the film. Emily Clarke is the shinning light of the movie and she does well with what she has to work with i.e playing off a woeful Henry Golding, but this does little to save the first Christmas movie of the year.