by Kyle Arango
There’s nothing like that feel good Christmas movie that comes around every holiday season. That film that just gets you in the spirit and creates a magic you can only get at the movies. My prediction is that this year, that film is Last Christmas. Paul Feig making a Christmas movie with Henry Golding and Emilia Clarke starring and Emma Thompson writing the story, it has the formula. Will my prediction be right? Of course it will and it did come true. It’s the present underneath my television decorated like a Christmas tree I had asked for all year and the entire crew delivered it in beautiful giftwrap with even more on the inside.
In Last Christmas we follow Kate played by Emilia Clarke, an employee at a year-round Christmas store who dresses like an elf and is homeless. She drinks away her problems and sleeps with random men only to never see them again. Her life feels so hopeless until she meets Tom played by Henry Golding, who encourages her to always look up and be the great person she once was. This movie is everything I had hoped for. When I saw last year A Simple Favor directed by Paul Feig, it felt as if he got his groove back and I was excited to see what his next project was. That is when Last Christmas got announced starring Emilia Clarke who is my favorite actress working today known for her role as Daenerys in Game of Thrones. She is paired with Henry Golding who came out swinging last year as the leading man in Crazy Rich Asians and also A Simple Favor. Take them and combine it with Michelle Yeoh and Emma Thompson costarring with Emma also writing the script. Then even on top of that, they have access to George Michael’s entire catalog of songs, it seemed like a perfect formula for success and it did not letdown.
What really works at the core of this entire film is the message it sends. This is a film about a woman who dealt with some serious trauma in her life that made her a different person she is not proud of and about the climb to get back and be better than she has ever been. This film teaches us that even when the times get tough and depression sets in, you still have it inside you to be a great person. It is all about persistence and hope with the idea to help those around us along the way. Isn’t that something we can all use right now? This is all credit to the masterful directing of Paul Feig. He paces this film and displays this message at such a rate that it never feels too rushed or dragged and never on the nose. In the hands of another filmmaker, I do not believe that would’ve been the case. Feig has proven just how terrific a filmmaker he is by succeeding in multiple genres while also allowing his voice to come through onscreen with every film. He is excellent especially at directing female actors and this might just be his best work.
Speaking of his actors, Feig gets brilliant performances out of his leads in Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding. Let’s start with Emilia who is in every single scene of this film. This is 100% her film and she never lets it go off course. As said before, Feig has a knack for getting great performances from his actresses and that is no different here. This is Emilia Clarke’s best performance in a film so far in her young career. She is incredibly relatable in the sense where we all have had those low moments, while also convincing in her climb back from not being like herself. Her presence is just so pure and earnest and you totally buy her as someone you see yourself in. Henry Golding on the other side is quickly becoming the most charming actor working today. He can be suave and seductive but also caring and understanding. His character Tom sees the world in the most positive outlook and that we can always improve and help others. Henry sells that so well while also becoming a heartbreaking figure that we hope to be perfect. His perfect sense combined with Emilia’s character’s damage make their chemistry flow and you always want more of it. They make you believe miracles can happen.
So what else can you ask for with a Christmas movie but a great story about overcoming the odds and a warm feeling in your heart? A film that will make you smile, laugh, and cry and make it so seamless. Every holiday season, we are looking for happiness and Last Christmas delivers on just that and then some. Emilia Clarke is the most endearing she has ever been and paired with the charming Henry Golding, it is a beautiful thing to watch. Paul Feig has become one of the top directors working today and after this, I will anticipate anything he ties himself too. This is another Christmas movie to add to your yearly rotation and get you in the holiday spirit. Might I be a little generous with my score? Perhaps, but this film exceeded my expectations and delivered exactly what I had hoped for.
The Verdict: 5/5 Stars