Sold as a being built around the music of George Michael and Wham! — which it decidedly is not — Last Christmas delivers pretty much everything a rom-com connoisseur could desire. Hung in the loosest possible sense on Michael’s music, it sees 20-something Kate (played by Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke) muddling through one of life’s major troughs in the wake of a life-changing incident.
While she’s in the midst of wallowing in misery, eye-rolling her way through daily life and indulging in unhealthy habits, out of nowhere the dreamily clean-cut Tom (Henry Golding) appears to whisk her around London, opening her eyes to his glass-half-full perspective in the process.
What ensues is a bonkers mash-up caper through laugh-out-loud gags (not always executed well), heart-wrenching insights into mental health struggles and true-to-canon romance as envisioned by Bridesmaids director Paul Feig and writer, actress and all-round icon Emma Thompson.
Clarke’s acting yo-yos from great to terrible but when she’s good, she nails it, like in a standout moment when Kate opens up to Tom, voicing for the first time since a life-saving heart transplant the imposter syndrome and depression she’s been battling.
The touching scene sees the protagonist breaking down as she finally pauses to comprehend what she’s been through and how her approach to life has been impacted.
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Last Christmas REVIEW: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding plus everything and the kitchen sink (Image: UP)
Emilia Clarke's Kate has had a string of bad luck (Image: UP)
Thompson’s sensitivity to rapidly-changing attitudes in 2019 runs throughout the film but is most apparent as Kate bares her chest to show Tom the thick scar left by her surgery.
Quietly he reaches forward, steady and empathetic before the writer adds in a nod to the simplicity of consent as he pauses to ask, ‘Is this okay?’ before touching.
Moving from weighty issues to chirpy cheer as abruptly as Last Christmas, let’s talk about Golding, who brings a genuine warmth to the leading man role, snatching it from the jaws of unbearable tweeness.
A light touch is what’s needed for a rollercoaster script this hammy and Golding