Film Review: Last Christmas (2019)

Any film with Patti LuPone has to be a winner, even if Last Christmas only features her for 90 seconds or so. Nowhere near as bad as they’d have you believe…

“Before we eat lesbian pudding…”

There’s always a measure of slight disappointment when something doesn’t live up to its billing. To look at most of its press coverage, you’d think Last Christmas was ZOMG WORST FILM IN THE WORLD™ (a title it might have held at least for the four weeks before Cats came out…). But the reality, as per usual, is something much more mundane – it’s a perfectly serviceable piece of festive fluff, hardly ground-breaking but then what rom-com is?

Obviously I’m biased since the great Patti LuPone makes a random cameo early on, but I found the whole thing to be quite watchable. Its guest cast is a winner from start to finish – Michelle Yeoh! David Mumeni’s inexplicably rebuffed pub guy, Anna Calder-Marshall’s spiky homeless woman, Lydia Leonard and Jade Anouka as a lesbian couple, Amit Shah’s bumbling estate agent…and that joy of trying to work out which bit of London is being used at any given time.

The main story, conceived by husband and wife Emma Thompson and Greg Wise and written by Thompson with Bryony Kimmings, is perhaps somewhat weaker than it should be. Predicated on a huge twist, which was hugely obvious from the moment the first trailer aired, itsuffers both from having been seen before (in theatres at least) and not quite punching as hard as it should do, as Emilia Clarke’s aimless Christmas shop worker Kate goes on a redemptive journey with the mysterious Tom (Henry Golding).

And being sold as “inspired by the music of George Michael”, Paul Feig’s film makes small use of his songbook and his presence – a subtlety some may have been pleased with but I quite fancied a full-on George musical tbh. Instead, there’s quirky comic beats (Thompson dons an Eastern European accent…) and social realism (Brexit and anti-immigrant behaviour rear their gammon-flecked heads) which make the film never quite what you’re expecting. For me, it’s enjoyably naff fun, and I’ve seen far worse in the cinema…

Last Christmas is available on Digital HD from Amazon Video and iTunes on 21st January 2020, and on DVD and Blu-ray on 4th February 2020

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