Last Christmas

A feel-good Christmas movie centred around the music of George Michael

If Helen Fielding reworked A Christmas Carol subbing in Bridget Jones for Ebenezer Scrooge, it might look a little like this good-natured but lightweight romcom about a struggling twenty-something finding salvation in a handsome stranger.

If you can turn a blind eye to an earnestly delivered but daft third-act twist that the film’s trailer telegraphed months ago, and some low-flame chemistry between Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, Last Christmas is a feel-nice addition to the festive canon. It’s purpose-built for anyone who’s watched The Holiday maybe six times too often.

Clarke plays Kate, a wannabe singer with a deep love for George Michael, humiliatingly forced to dress as an elf working for the owner of a Covent Garden Christmas shop (Michelle Yeoh). “I’m not a career elf,” she stresses, though such is her wrecking-ball approach to life, you suspect she’d be sued for reputational damage by other elves if she was. Enter Golding’s mysterious stranger, Tom, a bike courier who starts to reintroduce some hope to her life. But who is he? And why does he seem to have one coat and (yikes) no phone?

Soundtracked by wall-to-wall Wham! and George Michael tunes (several versions of the title song feature, including a couple that amusingly emanate from festive tat in the shop), their burgeoning romance takes in the sights of a picture-postcard London. Bar a notably sombre middle-act dip, American director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) handles it all briskly.

In the spirit of all good Christmas movies, it’s wildly untroubled by geography or realism. And though the film makes a genuine attempt to engage with the city’s homelessness problem – there’s a subplot based at a shelter – and nods towards the challenges of migrants, it’s done in a way that makes Richard Curtis look like Ken Loach.

The dialogue is a blunt instrument, but the charm of the cast carries you along. Clarke is engaging, Emma Thompson is a hoot as her alpha mum, even Yeoh’s sternness takes on a comic dimension.

DIRECTOR
Paul Feig

RELEASE DATE
November 21

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