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December 11, 2019

Last Christmas (2019) --- "Sometimes You've Just Gotta Look Up"

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     After falling ill the previous year, aspiring singer Kate (Emilia Clarke) is a bundle of bad decisions, self-destruction, and cynicism as she stomps around London in her jangly shoes, which are an irritating consequence of her job as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop run by “Santa” (Michelle Yeoh). Despite the holidays, Kate is anything but filled with the holiday spirit as she does everything she can to avoid her family, particularly her overbearing and suffocating mother (Emma Thompson). When Kate keeps running into Tom (Henry Golding), a mysterious and handsome charmer who seems too good to be true, she finds her carefully constructed barriers being torn as he teaches her how to look at life in a new light. But as their growing attraction quickly turns into love, Kate soon realizes that a relationship with Tom might fit into the new life she has started to build for herself. Sometimes you’ve got to listen to your heart, have faith, and let the snowfall where it may.
     Directed by Paul Feig (A Simple Favor) and written by Bryony Kimmings (Bridget Jones’ Baby), Emma Thompson (Strange Angel), and Greg Wise, Last Christmas (2019) is a romantic comedy that will make you smile, laugh, and maybe even cry by the end. If you break down the story into parts, comedy, angst, romance, etc. then you will notice that the story is significantly lacking in the romance department and yet this doesn’t impede the story’s success. The reason being that the story is a compelling one about trauma and the messy path most people go through in order to heal and move on with their life. It’s a dramatic-comedy with a romantic subplot that makes some messy choices at the beginning, but it delivers on the promise of being a heartfelt and charming holiday film with an engaging story about the difficulty of healing from trauma.
    The cast performances are solid throughout. Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) is known for being bubbly to a fault and a general disposition akin to a greeting card so it is surprising to see her play such a self-destructive and cynical character. She demonstrates how Kate suffers over feeling broken and her fear that that feeling may never go away. Henry Golding gives a charismatic performance where he proves that he is still the “Prince Charming” we saw in Crazy Rich Asians (2018). His calm and easy presence as Tom gives Kate hope but he is reduced to being an accessory to Kate’s character. Kind of like a ghost of Christmas past or an ornament on the tree. However, there is a method to the madness and tom’s aloofness is intentional to the story’s third act. The supporting cast also excels. Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians) as "Santa" is a scene-stealer with her deadpan insults and genuine maternal affection for Kate. Emma Thompson (Cruella) as Kate’s mom Petra is a great source of comic relief with her questionable Croatian accent. The rest of the supporting cast - Lydia Leonard as Kate’s sister Marta, Ingrid Oliver as Police Woman Crowley, Patti LuPone as Joyce, Rebecca Root as Dr. Addis, Peter Mygind as "Boy" - also gave good performances.

     Overall, Last Christmas (2019) is a romantic comedy that is more like a dramatic comedy with a romantic subplot and delivers a compelling story about trauma and its messy road to healing. The beginning is a bit messy but it delivers on its promise of being a charming and heartfelt holiday film with an engaging story and solid cast performances. I highly recommend that you see this film if you have not already.

Final Vote --- 7 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar
Big Miracle (2012)
A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish (2019)
A Christmas Prince (2017)
A Christmas Prince: Royal Wedding (2018)
A Christmas Prince: Royal Baby (2019)
Christmas Inheritance (2017)
Christmas in the Heartland (2017)
Good Sam (2019)
The Holiday Calendar (2018)
Home Christmas (2019)
The Knight Before Christmas (2019)
Let It Snow (2019)
The Princess Switch (2018)

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