By Sadie Dodds
Every year, the release of a large assortment of cheesy Holiday movies and rom-coms marks the beginning of the “most wonderful time of the year.” This year was no different with the release of “Santa Girl,” “Holiday in the Wild,” “A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish,” and most known, “Last Christmas” which came out on November 8. “Last Christmas” is the most well known of these.
“Last Christmas” stars Emilia Clarke, who is known for her role as Daenerys Targaryen on “Game of Thrones,” and Henry Goulding, who is quickly becoming a well known heartthrob. On top of this, it is written by the famous British actress, comedian, and screenwriter Emma Thompson and directed by Paul Feig, an actor and filmmaker known for his participation in comedies such as “Bridesmaids” and “Ghostbusters.” These people bring a lot of prestige to “Last Christmas,” but ultimately a review is based on the movie itself.
It would probably be better for “Last Christmas” if the review process didn’t work like this. Most critics have decided that this is one of the worst Christmas rom-coms ever made. Rolling Stone calls it “incredibly, shockingly bad” while Us Weekly says it’s “an aimless, overstuffed mess with glaring identity issues, it will yield little joy during this festive season.”
I would like to say that I disagree with these reviews. I would like to say that “Last Christmas” was good for what it was. That although parts of it didn’t match the hype “Last Christmas” was given, it had moments of romance or humor that were good enough to gain it an okay review.
However, I can’t say that. From the main relationship to the strange racist issues to the plot twist, all this movie managed to do was make me cringe.
The main couple, Tom and Kate, are supposed to be some great relationship that we all root for; however, I spent the whole movie wincing every time they were together. Tom is the perfect guy: handsome, smart, and kind. He volunteers at a homeless shelter very often just so that he can help people. Kate is the opposite: emotionally unstable, selfish, and damaged. This pairing makes sense because it’s someone who likes to help taking care of someone who wants help. The problem is that it isn’t a healthy relationship. Kate needs to learn how to take care of herself in her new life and Tom needs to care about himself as well as other people. Their relationship is built on codependency and that is not a healthy basis.
On top of the main story line, a majority of the movie was dedicated to addressing the protection of migrant worker’s rights post-Brexit. Personally, I love when movies use their reach to bring light to problems in the world; however, this execution was just terrible. Kate’s family had immigrated to Britain from Yugoslavia a number of years ago but were still suffering from discrimination. However, none of it felt natural. Everytime they brought up the issue, it was completely out of nowhere, had no effect on the plot, and was never brought up again. The main example that I think of is that Kate was on a bus for some unknown reason and witnessed some immigrants being harassed for speaking their native tongue so as soon as the harassers left the bus, she spoke to them. This was possibly character development, but it wasn’t big enough to have any effect except to separate the audience from the actual plotline for a couple of minutes.
I say all of this without even touching the worst part of this movie: the plot-twist. I went into “Last Christmas” knowing that it was based on Wham!’s 1984 song by the same name. I did not, however, know how literally it would be based. The first line of the chorus is “Last christmas I gave you my heart.” This is meant to be a metaphorical giving away of their heart, as in they fell in love. However, the “Last Christmas” writers took it as exactly as possible. It’s hard to even call this a plot-twist because looking back on it now it feels so obvious, it’s almost painful. However, I didn’t expect it at all. It’s one of those things where you don’t think that they could possibly ever go there. But they did. They went there.
All in all, this movie is not the worst Christmas movie that came out this year– ahem… “Santa Girl…” ahem– but it is certainly up there.