'Last Christmas': Homage to George Michael

Brenda Watkins
November 11, 2019

At best, this tendency merits a mere eye roll; at worst, the film's laughably oversimplified politics - including lazy gestures at British anti-immigrant sentiment and a sequence involving homeless shelter residents, who are portrayed as hapless beneficiaries cheerily auditioning for a musical - are frustratingly reductive. And I know, and it saddens me terribly, because I know I would love him. Even if she doesn't like it, Clarke understands the impetus behind it. He tucks her in and they kiss but they don't spend the night together.

She didn't start out this way: the opening scene shows a young Kate singing angelically in a church in her former-Yugoslav homeland, where apparently they sing George Michael ditties during mass. He can't always be there for her. However, because this is a romantic dramedy - the audience and Kate soon begin to realize that Tom isn't exactly who he says he is. So what? No one in the movie really matters other than Clark. Can she go on with her improved life without him or will she fall back into despair? But because Thompson gifted us with the most moving scene in a holiday movie ever - the heart-wrenching, wordless Joni Mitchell scene in Love, Actually - we forgive her for nearly anything.

Still, the film's twist is so odd and unbelievable that you'll question your own sanity when it's revealed.

"Game of Thrones" star Emilia Clark moves from dragons and such to more mundane matters of the heart. Though "Last Christmas" is marketed as a romantic comedy, there's little romance to be found; it's hard to buy into Kate and Tom's chemistry when Golding's character reads more as a walking, talking self-help manual than an actual human being.

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The late Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou might have been, as Emilia Clarke's rom-com heroine Kate declares in Last Christmas (★★★½☆), "misunderstood and under-appreciated", but the singer-songwriter gets due love and respect in the film, which takes its title and storyline from the 1984 hit that Michael wrote and produced as half of the English pop duo Wham!.

Last Christmas will be released in United Kingdom cinemas November 15.

Before long enough, Kate meets Tom (Yeoh's "Insane Rich Asians" co-star, Henry Golding), a fantastic if baffling sort, who drives her on voyages through the city, advises her to "Turn upward" and helps end a portion of those unfortunate propensities. But if, like me, you've gone ahead and given in to the whimsy of the holiday spirit and the giddy chemistry between Clarke and Golding, it could just be a whopper of a key change. Choose the amount that works best for you, and know how much we appreciate your support! I'm one of the few critics that gave a good review to The Holiday (Jack Black, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet). That is until she meets Tom (Henry Golding), the super charming, mysterious and optimistic man who is the total opposite of Kate. If only it had leaned more into the acerbic appeal of Clarke's performance or made the effort to scaffold a believable central relationship, "Last Christmas" might have had a shot at some meaningful originality.

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