Last Christmas: Bittersweet romantic comedy

Film: Last Christmas

Cast: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Thompson

Director: Paul Feig

Rating: * * *

This romcom co-written by Emma Thompson, who also co-stars in it with Emilia (Game of Thrones) Clarke and Michelle Yeoh, is saturated with songs by the late George Michael. One Christmas song in particular, has been cited as inspiration for the film and used as the movie's title.

Thompson and Yeoh are cast as Clarke’s mother and employer in the movie which features Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) as the enigmatic, sensitive do-gooder Tom. Clarke plays a Serbian refugee Katarina better known as Kate, who works in Chinese immigrant Yeoh’s year-round Yuletide merchandise store.

Kate lives on the edge, like very many women characters in cinema, until she gets to know Tom who volunteers in a soup kitchen for the homeless. Much in the manner of the apparitions who confront Scrooge in Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, challenging him to change his miserly ways; sweet Tom shows Kate that playing fast and loose is shallow and meaningless and what she ought to do really is live a little.

Thanks to Tom, Kate learns to reflect on her choices and her priorities in life. And to discern what is of true value. There’s a supernatural twist to this tale which also addresses issues of poverty and immigration woes. There isn’t any laugh out loud hilarity. How could there be in the face of so much emotional and spiritual deprivation? And yet, in the end, the film is elevated by a bit of the Christmas spirit – and I don’t mean the bright lights, tinsel and the evergreens – but hope, kindness, and charity.

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