Hoping to create a new festive favourite with ‘Last Christmas’, director Paul Feig is back and aims to please as the cinematic Santa Claus, delivering some much needed movie magic to our screens this holiday season. Too early for a Christmas movie? Well maybe this new festive flick is just what you need to get warmed up to the season? The film is a romantic-comedy lead by the wonderful Emilia Clarke and boasts a soundtrack by the late, great George Michael.
Whether you’re a fan of Paul Feig’s films or not (you should be), there’s one thing that they all have in common – they always feature a brilliant cast, and ‘Last Christmas’ is no exception. As already mentioned the film is lead by Emilia Clarke and she’s fantastic in her role here as Kate, a struggling singer filling her time inbetween auditions working in a Christmas shop. She’s instantly likeable thanks to Clarke’s natural charm and her strong screen presence fills her character with so much energy, giving the narrative the momentum it needs to sustain the film’s run time. Her romantic interest, Tom is played by the dreamy Henry Golding, reuniting with Feig after last year’s highly entertaining mystery thriller ‘A Simple Favour’. Golding is a joy, bringing all of his natural charisma to this role and sharing an endearing chemistry with his co-star Clarke. If you weren’t already obsessed with Golding before ‘Last Christmas’ you definitely will be after. Michelle Yeoh & Emma Thompson, who co-wrote the screenplay, also star in the film. Both of their performances bring a lot of humour to the film and their portrayals make for superb supporting characters.
So yes, as well as her convincing and hysterical turn as Kate’s mother, Petra, Thompson created the story alongside husband Greg Wise and wrote the screenplay with Bryony Kimmings. The narrative is so sweet and indisputably well intentioned, however for some the third act may be too much and it’s here that the film will divide audiences. With Feig’s careful direction though, ‘Last Christmas’ keeps its heart firmly in the right place and refrains from venturing too deep into the cliches that it admittedly does feature, stopping the proceedings from becoming too sickly, sweet. Nonetheless this is a Christmas movie and its festive feeling helps it get away with a few of the stories more saccharine aspects. What ‘Last Christmas’ should be seriously applauded for though is its seamless inclusion & discussion of relevant political & social issues and its excellent representation of countless minorities rarely presented on screen in such a natural way. In doing so encompassing everything that makes its London setting so vibrant and culturally diverse.
As it has been publicised and as its title might suggest ‘Last Christmas’ features the songs of George Michael. This element to the film has been somewhat exaggerated by some outlets, suggesting that it was set to become an all singing, all dancing George Michael musical. This is not the case, and as fabulous as that would be, the film instead incorporates his music into the film and its narrative in a more casual, yet well intentioned way. It never dominates the film, but it consistently enhances the proceedings, wholeheartedly becoming an intrinsic part of the film, just don’t be expecting ‘Rocketman’! It’s just a shame they couldn’t work ‘Club Tropicana’ into the soundtrack anywhere, that would have been impressive.
Ultimately, ‘Last Christmas’ is a fine festive treat, and no this isn’t just in reference to Golding. This is a romantic comedy, which thanks to the talents of its cast and its writers has the ability to make you laugh, cringe and cry in all the best ways possible. Of course it’s going to be too sweet for some and won’t be to everyone’s tastes but sure some people actually enjoy mince pies!? As he always does Feig has got the most from his stellar cast and here he directs with fun, flare and just the right amount of restraint when needed, resulting in the delivery of a christmassy comedy romance that should be on everyone’s to watch wish list.
Written by Hamish Calvert
STAR RATING –★★★★
Question: What is your favourite Paul Feig film?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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Thanks to Movie House Cinemas for screening access