Directed by: Paul Feig
Written by: Emma Thompson & Byrony Kimmings
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Henry Goulding, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Thompson, Rebecca Root, Lydia Leonard
Films have been adapted from novels, articles, personal experiences, and poems. It does not take much and this ever-charming film takes the words of a song and stretches it out to create an entire feature. Despite being incredibly predictable, when combining the cast and crew assembled for this story, enjoyment remains a real possibility.
Not living a healthy lifestyle and burning every bridge that exists, Kate (Emilia Clarke) puts off everyone she knows whether it be from her crass attitude or seemingly not caring for anyone else. Then she suddenly bumps into Tom (Henry Goulding), who possesses a zeal for life that she finds to be off-putting. As they continue to spend time together, Kate learns more about finding happiness and continually looking up.
When listening to the plot synopsis or consuming any of the promotional material for this film, the presentation of this story resembles something very predictable. Almost too predictable, which gave me pause. Considering Emma Thompson penned the script, there could simply be no way that this film plays out in the obvious way it appears. This story adapts the song “Last Christmas” sung by the group Wham!, which has become a Christmas staple. When I say it adapts the song, I means it goes in every direction you think it will. That realization disappointed me but all of the other positives outweigh the predictability.
Coming off of probably the biggest television series of this century, Emilia Clarke has a bevy of choices for where she wants to take her acting career. She attempted to jumpstart a franchise with Terminator: Genysis, which failed and her venture with this film displays the great acting ability she possesses. Clarke has good comedic timing and uses it well to manifest endearing qualities to someone the audience hates. Her character, Kate, does not care for others as she puts a wall around her because of the inner pain from past experiences. That type of insecurity can be related to and Clarke drags this character from completely unlikeable to someone worth rooting for.
Clarke also works incredibly well with her co-star Henry Goulding, who portrays Tom. Goulding really made his name known in 2018 with Crazy Rich Asians and A Simple Favor and he continues to utilize his undeniable charm in Last Christmas. He embodies a purely good nature without cynicism. Kate delivers plenty of that and the character of Tom provides the balance for this budding relationship to bloom.
Everything in the film felt somewhat surprising because I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and change the tone. Especially considering who helmed the camera and directed this film. Paul Feig, made known for Bridemaids and A Simple Favor, creates raunchy comedies that typically have something wild occur. Ultimately, this film has a type of pleasantry that defied my expectations going into it because of how straightforward the story became. Once I understood that it allowed me to appreciate the film for being charming and sweet. Nothing groundbreaking or that changes the way romantic comedies are made but a simple story about believing in oneself and not taking the supportive people in life for granted.