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The Music Of George Michael Swirls Around The Romantic Tale “Last Christmas”

Ever since the very first Trailer for Last Christmas was released, something felt…off. The story shown just seemed to be hiding a little bit of information. This led to subsequent analysis and over analysis of the little bit of footage, leading to wild theories about what could be happening within this holiday season romantic tale. Well, now that I’ve seen it and the embargo has lifted, I can report that while there is a degree of accuracy to some theories, it’s also a disservice to an otherwise fairly serviceable film. In fact, the plot itself probably would have been better off keeping things simple. At least there’s George Michael music throughout the flick, right? Alas, it’s not nearly enough.

The movie is a romantic holiday story, following a troubled young woman. For Kate (Emilia Clarke), bad choices are a way of life, only compounded by a rough recent go of it after a major health scare. A would be actress/singer, she’s reduced to working as an elf for Santa (Michelle Yeoh) at a holiday themed store. Kate avoids her stressful mother Petra (Emma Thompson) like the plague, only leading to more anxiety for the both of them. Then one day, she meets Tom (Henry Golding) outside the shop. An almost impossibly positive person, Tom takes a liking to Kate, but not in the way most men do, avoiding simply trying to bed her. As they grow closer, her closed off heart begins to open up. However, is there more here than meets the eye? Paul Feig directs a screenplay penned by Thompson, alongside Bryony Kimmings and Greg Wise. Supporting players include Ritu Arya, Rob Delaney, Boris Isakovic, Lydia Leonard, and more. John Schwartzman handles the cinematography, while Theodore Shapiro composes the score. George Michael tunes pepper the soundtrack, as well as occasionally factor into the plot.

There’s undeniably some charm on display here. Thompson’s Petra is occasionally a riot, while Clarke has many a witty comment to let loose on her co-stars. There’s even an interesting subplot running through the flick about immigrants in England, clearly influenced by Brexit. It’s given short shrift, but it’s there, to help color in the lines. More of that and less of the spoiler I’m going to avoid discussing much would have been better. Clarke and Golding have a mild spark, but she’s better paired with Thompson, who gave herself the most plum role.

Last Christmas is at its best when it’s being simple and just focused on character. Unfortunately, anything centered on the emerging twist is far less successful. The motivations involved are murky and don’t quite add up. It doesn’t seem like the part that Thompson was focused on here, nor does it fully interest Feig. However, once it becomes clear, so much of the story seems like padding. Even the Michael music is only window dressing, more of a soundtrack choice and character quirk than anything really noteworthy. There are good things here, but not enough to ultimately warrant a recommendation.

This weekend, folks in the holiday spirit will have a somewhat intriguing option when Last Christmas is released. Fans of Christmas movies will probably wanted to get in the spirit with this one, as well as the emerging group of Henry Golding lovers. Factor in Emilia Clarke fans from Game of Thrones, along with anyone looking to enjoy George Michael music, and there’s a potential audience here. Those who didn’t do a deep dive on the Trailer will probably find the most to enjoy. It’s a passable film in most regards, but the talent involved, especially in regards to Paul Feig and Emma Thompson, suggested more. Consider it a bit of a missed opportunity…

Last Christmas hits theaters on Friday.

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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