REVIEW: ‘Last Christmas’ lags far behind better flicks in the genre

If I wanted to watch a Hallmark holiday movie, I’d just turn on the channel rather than go to the theater. But that’s what “Last Christmas” asks audiences to do.

This latest holiday romance flick, featuring a big helping of George Michael music, stars Emilia Clarke as the protagonist Kate. At the movie’s beginning, Kate isn’t in a very good place, her career as a singer isn’t going anywhere, she’s stuck as a cashier at a job she’s not very fond of, she parties too much and doesn’t have her own place, meaning she’s either staying with her parents or couch-surfing.

This whole situation comes several months after a severe illness and as a result, Kate has become rough around the edges and overall very cynical. Her sour look at the world begins to soften, though, when she meets and gets to know Tom (Henry Golding). Eventually, Tom’s positiveness begins to push Kate in a better direction as their relationship grows.

This flick had some talent attached to it in front of and behind the camera, but the execution is so off here. The film’s pacing, for example, is all over the map. Relationship changes, family drama and life events happen here either too slow or too fast, without a good consistency.

It certainly doesn’t help that the movie’s story includes far too many subplots. The movie could have been just fine with Kate’s adventure in the Christmas store she works at and her budding romance with Tom.

However, the movie also includes subplots about her strained relationship with her sister, her mom’s issues and another romance story involving her boss and one of the store patrons.

It just feels overstuffed and the movie’s pacing doesn’t help the situation. The movie also includes another subplot involving a social commentary that seemed to come out of nowhere and felt somewhat unnecessary.

Last Christmas
Courtesy Universal Pictures

All of these story issues could probably be forgiven, though, if not for one piece of this picture. A bit too much going on here, sure, but the movie might have been somewhat passable. Unfortunately, the movie also includes a laughable twist that torpedoes the film as a whole.

It’s not the hardest twist to figure out, in fact one can pick up on where the movie might be going in the second act. But when the big reveal happens, it causes so many plot holes and all together not only comes across as ridiculous, but cheap.

It’s a real shame, too, because, as previously stated, there was some talent here, especially in the film’s cast. Clarke is fine as the scrappy protagonist who has a tough exterior but a heart of gold underneath. She really sells the character.

The same goes for Henry Golding, who brings an infectious charm to the screen from start to finish and is certainly a likable part. There’s also a fair amount of chemistry present in the relationship.

The film’s supporting cast was solid, too, featuring great performers like Emma Thompson and Michelle Yeoh. However, many of the side characters were undercut by the material here.

Even the material for the two leading performers who really do some good work here could have been tweaked. Because as it stands, Golding’s character was a bit too flawless and Clarke’s character was too negative.

Overall “Last Christmas” isn’t one of the worst holiday romcoms out there, but much of the movie was below average. It probably could have been left at a 2 , but when that twist happened, this one went below. 1.75 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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