Last Christmas (2019) restores my Faith in Holiday rom-coms

Paul Feig’s new film, Last Christmas (2019), is pretty much exactly what one might expect it to be for a Christmas themed rom-com. There are a few surprises, though – but the elements one would expect are executed very well, the supporting cast is strong, and even the story threads that feel a little underused still serve a purpose that left me feeling satisfied. I always like to give the caveat that I’m a sucker for romantic comedies and bigger-budgeted Christmas movies. Thus, if you’re usually averse to these kinds of films, my take on it may likely not reflect your own. 

Kate (Emilia Clarke) is living a selfish, reckless life after recovering from a near-fatal medical condition. She is essentially homeless, choosing to avoid living with her mom (Emma Thompson) while she works as an elf at a year-round Christmas store for her boss Santa (Michelle Yeoh), and sleeps with random guys who she has no interest in outside of the one encounter. That is the case until she meets an odd fellow standing outside her shop named Tom (Henry Golding) who has an immediate impact on her. 

Clarke’s performance is so charming and wonderful, as her character learns the lessons needed to fulfill her character’s arc. Feig choosing Golding as the male lead was logical after his performance in last year’s Crazy Rich Asians (2018) – but in some ways, it was also inspiring. Golding has such a lovable presence that it is totally easy to believe that Kate would fall so quickly for Tom, despite the short time. In some movies, it is hard to believe how a person could fall in love so quickly – but if the casting is right, it just feels natural. Clark and Golding have excellent chemistry, and the way their relationship forms is truly satisfying.

The use of George Michael – maybe it’s Wham – as the soundtrack was a pleasant surprise. Everyone expected the song “Last Christmas” to be used (and it is used and used well), but I hadn’t predicted other non-Christmas songs to be used. I really enjoyed the music, and how the songs tied into the plot in a variety of ways. I’ve done no research to find out why Feig chose this, or how the songs maybe inspired the writing of the script – but it definitely feels very intentional. 

The supporting characters, the story, and the few surprises present really clicked for me while watching this with my wife. We both walked out with a few tear marks on our faces hidden by our smiles. It was a joy to watch, and a solid entry into what will likely be an ever-growing Christmas film list. Last Christmas earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating. 

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