For George Michael obsessives, this is one of the most eagerly anticipated festive releases of the year; but sadly Last Christmas comfortably takes the title of one of the worst films of this year.
Last Christmas, directed by Paul Feig and written by Bryony Kimmings, Emma Thompson, and Greg Wise is the story of Kate (Emilia Clarke) and her recovery from an ‘illness’ that is infuriatingly skirted-around like a pot-hole until the final act of this car crash attempt at romantic-comedy. Kate works as an elf at a year-round Christmas shop, and the story unfolds as she attempts to find stability and clarity in her uncertain life.
Let’s start with the few redeeming features of the film – the soundtrack to the film feels thoughtfully curated; Wham! and George Michael fans won’t be disappointed by the mix of recognisable hits (Faith, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Freedom ‘90) and are treated to some lesser-known ballads (Waiting For That Day, Heal The Pain).
There’s some poignant – if unsubtle – social commentary about Brexit, the culture wars and the immigrant experience, a nice touch in a film that is ostensibly inspired by George Michael, himself an LGBTQ+ man and second-generation immigrant. Andrew Ridgeley makes a pleasing cameo – as does Sue Perkins – and the film does well in terms of representation of minority groups.
Whilst the film has well-chosen music, the application of the score is rather jarring. Often simply played loudly over the top of a scene for no reason, the film lacks some serious diegetic balance.
The screenplay is particularly uninspiring, laden with tedious robotic dialogue and fusty cliches. But undoubtedly, the worst part of the film is the wholly unnecessary and risible plot device used to tie the film together; clearly intended to be the emotional climax of the film, it’s mainlining-lemon-juice-into-my-veins level of cringe-inducing. Shutter Island, The Firm, Fanta Fruit – this twist is worse than all of them.
Most puzzlingly, for a film that clearly attempts to have a social conscience, it has some profoundly problematic scenes. The most egregious example being when Kate outs her sister Marta (Lydia Leonard) to her family during an argument – a nightmare scenario for many LGBTQ+ people – and not dissimilar to what happened to George Michael himself in 1998, when he was outed to the world by the LAPD – the scene is completely unnecessary, deeply uncomfortable to watch and bordering on indefensible. There’s also a scene that depicts homeless people as greedy – a lazy and downright offensive trope.
Overall, it’s really quite tedious, a lengthy 104 minutes that I would heartily suggest you spend doing literally anything else, why not spend the time reading the manifestos of the political parties for the upcoming General Election? It’ll almost certainly be funnier and might well be more romantic than this film.
Image: Movie DB