Merry English Christmas

Last Christmas
Stars: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Thompson, Rebecca Root, Lydia Leonard and Patti LuPone
Director: Paul Feig
Scriptwriters: Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings from a story by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise
Composer: Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography: John Schwartzman
Feigco Entertainment/Universal Pictures
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 104 Minutes 

I interviewed Paul Feig in 2004 when he was going around the U.S. promoting “My Name Is David,” still one of the best children/family films.  Fieg’s latest film has a script by Emma Thompson and stars Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones,” and no dragons here). “Last Christmas” is a holiday story with an unusual slant.  This is the third of three Christmas-themed films I have reviewed so far for 2019, “Country Christmas Album,” “A Snow White Christmas” and now, “Last Christmas.” 

This film, “Last Christmas,” centers with British humor,  on Kate (Emilia Clarke), a young woman who wanders through life from one little disaster to another.  If there is a rug to trip on, she will find it.  People such as her boss, nicknamed “Santa” (Michelle Yeoh from “Crazy, Rich Asians”) keep giving her second chances, and even then, nothing goes right.  Men? Kate gets chased out of a hotel room by a guy’s wife, and when Kate finally finds someone, well, different, named Tom (Henry Golding from “Crazy, Rich Asians”), he is nice and happy, but distant.  In the meantime, Kate keeps on the disaster trail such as missing an audition, then showing up late. Why do mistakes happen to Kate? Is Kate hiding something? Is Kate being true to herself?  

Emilia Clarke can do comedy as well as tame dragons, and does the role of Kate the loser, quite well.  Her quips and pratfalls are numerous and carry the story along. Henry Golding is the enigmatic Tom who seems just right for Kate, in fact, too perfect, while Michelle Yeoh as Kate’s boss, has the correct amount of exasperation for a tiresome employee.  It is Kate’s family, parents and sibling, that are intriguing. Mom Emma Thompson is also good with a quip and she and Kate play off each other well. As we delve into Kate’s past, we find more and more mystery. 

Emma Thompson can put together a script with a twist and that is what makes “Last Christmas” interesting.  Yes, there is humor, yes, there is hope Kate will pull it together, but there is also a warmth that comes through in unusual ways.  This is not your standard Christmas-presents-under-the-tree-Christmas-morning type of story, but rather about life and the quirks and turns its’ pathway holds for us---whether that be in health, friends or love. 

For future trivia: You will remember one of the favorite contemporary Christmas songs, “Last Christmas,” as having been written by the late George Michael.  The soundtrack for the film, “Last Christmas,” was composed by Theodore Shapiro.  Emma Thompson and her husband, Greg Wise, have also published a book, being released this fall (2019) with the title of “Last Christmas” and containing essays on the meaning of  Christmas by film stars including Andy Serkis and Olivia Colman.  


Copyright 2019 Marie Asner