- 30 May - 05 Jun, 2020
- 23 Nov - 29 Nov, 2019
Somewhere in the last decade, audiences, and in turn financiers, fell out of love with the London-set romantic comedy, a subgenre that had almost single-handedly been keeping the British film industry alive, or at least somewhat in profit but Emma Thompson seemed to miss them as she chucked together Last Christmas, a thirsty little festive film eager to remind us all why we actually loved Love Actually in the first place.
Based on the song by Wham! because sure, Last Christmas tells the story of George Michael-obsessed, former Yugoslavian 26-year-old Kate (33-year-old Emilia Clarke, with a regular posh accent), a Disneyfied Fleabag whose foibles are cutesy rather than catastrophic. She works in a year-round Christmas store in Covent Garden dressed as an elf. But Kate really wants to be a professional singer although she’s technically sort of homeless and lives on whatever couch she can find. She avoids her concerned mother (Thompson), exhausts her beleaguered boss (Michelle Yeoh), and frustrates her ever-decreasing circle of friends while struggling to make anything substantial last.
But then, in one of the clumsiest meet-cutes in recent memory, while dusting Christmas decorations, she spots a handsome stranger (Henry Golding) staring at a bird. After a dung on her face, the pair start to fall for each other and go on a number of geographically questionable saunters around the city. But why does he keep disappearing on her? Can she sort out her life? And would Richard Curtis approve of this? The spoiler-free answer to all three questions would be that you can probably figure it out from the first 20 minutes.
Thompson reportedly gained the blessing of George Michael before his death in 2016 and sees the film as a tribute to his music. One of the film’s few plus points is the opportunity to listen to so many of his songs up on the big screen.
The combination of Michael’s music, a cosy festive aesthetic, picturesque London scenery and an irresistible fascination over what the plot morphs into does make Last Christmas sort of digestible but this really is a clunky, charmless disappointment. Last Christmas is, or at least should be, cancelled.