From the trailers of this film, I was uncertain if I’d like it. I tend not to like romantic dramas, but I do like some romantic comedies and Christmas films. I spoke to someone who saw this film before I went. This person helped alleviate my concerns that it was too dark, dramatic, or sappy. After seeing it, I’d agree with them. This movie mixes in romance, family relationships, moving on from a point of trauma, and comedy.
The movie starts off showing a choir singing in 1999 in Yugoslavia, then we move to modern day with Kate (Emilia Clarke) going to work. We learn Kate has been looking for a place to stay after accidentally killing the fish of her former roommates. She goes to work at a Christmas shop where her boss, Santa (Michelle Yeoh), asks her about her plans and why she just won’t return to live with her parents. Kate wants to avoid her mother, and her sister Marta (Lydia Leonard) ends up having to relay the messages to Kate. Kate gets distracted one day at work by a man looking up at something strangely. She goes outside to look up and she gets “pooed on” which Tom (Henry Golding) says is good luck.
Kate at first rebukes Tom asking her out, but when she agrees after bumping into him again, she sees how unusually optimistic he is. He shows her some interesting and strange sights in the city she’s lived in for years by telling her to “look up” to see what she’s been missing. Tom helps Kate to realize that she should try visiting her family again, and we see the strained family lifestyle she wanted to avoid. Her overbearing mother Petra (Emma Thompson) even tucks her into bed and won’t stop singing a lullaby to her in one scene. Tom takes her on another date where he teaches her to ice skate to practice for her audition of Frozen on Ice. Kate is unusually upbeat for herself, but she’s frustrated by the inability to contact Tom as he leaves his cellphone at home.
While this movie seems to be a romance film, Last Christmas largely is focused around Kate’s personal journey. The movie takes a character who was focused on herself and sees her develop into someone who is both comfortable with who she is and wants to help others. I would say that it’s unfortunate that some of the themes make this a more mature movie, as it has good messages throughout the story. I do like the general theme of a character transformation in a Christmas film as it does match the general theme of finding joy in the winter. I wouldn’t say this movie greatly exceeded my expectations, but I would say that it was undersold by the trailers. Rated PG-13