It's a mix of sad and glad with a top notch cast but has a supernatural twist that is easily guessed. Her job as a "cheery" elf in a year-round Christmas shop doesn't help.
Clarke's acting yo-yos from great to awful but when she's good, she nails it, like in a standout moment when Kate opens up to Tom, voicing for the first time since a life-saving heart transplant the imposter syndrome and depression she's been battling. She drags a rolling suitcase with her and spends the night with random guys and friends until they throw her out. Michelle Yeoh was so good in insane, yet here she's just insane. Kate has missed several doctor's appointments. She's also inclined to drink too much. She thinks he is cute but weird, maybe a stalker? However, she can't seem to take anything seriously. He's only available to her when he's wants and not when she wants him.
It's unbelievable to consider that Yeoh, such a smooth comic presence here, was known early in her career purely as an action hero. Tom is everything Kate isn't: generous and kind, optimistic and observant. She doesn't get the "Frozen" part and Tom seems to disappear from her life. At best, this tendency merits a mere eye roll; at worst, the film's laughably oversimplified politics - including lazy gestures at British anti-immigrant sentiment and a sequence involving homeless shelter residents, who are portrayed as hapless beneficiaries cheerily auditioning for a musical - are frustratingly reductive. When she becomes depressed again, Tom is suddenly there. Her devotion to the late, great GM established, we fast-forward to grown-up Kate. Its salvation is the warm rapport between Golding and Clarke (when they do appear together), a Christmas gibbon, and the distraction of all those twinkly lights, which are used liberally. And I know, and it grieves me dreadfully, because I know he would love it. He can't always be there for her. Her courting everyday living is a sequence of one particular-evening-stands that stop in disaster, and she's scarcely clinging to a menial retail task at a vacation boutique that specializes in really horrifying Christmas-themed novelties.
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Is Tom who he says he is?
And here, Emma Thompson wrote a screenplay incorporating the Wham! and other George Michael songs, into a movie [side note: nobody will ever do that better than Jordan Peele did in Keanu, with gang members groovin' to his tunes]. But if, like me, you've gone ahead and given in to the whimsy of the holiday spirit and the giddy chemistry between Clarke and Golding, it could just be a whopper of a key change.
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In an attempt to be timely, Last Christmas also shoved commentary on Brexit, and immigration into various scenes. He knows how to make movies that stay with us. The very next day, she attended the movie's Paris premiere in a chic, neutral-toned dress, with a matching coat draped over her shoulders for when she went outside. While it can't be determined by the final results, LAST CHRISTMAS feels a bit like it started as one thing, tried to turn into another, and wound up somewhere in the middle with both narrative and quality.
"Last Christmas" is distributed by Universal and is now playing nationwide.
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Are you into Emilia Clarke or Henry Golding (of Crazy Rich Asians)? Ironically, what you get is a movie that is 50-50.