Film: Last Christmas
Cast: Emilia Clarke, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Thompson, Patti LuPone, Lydia Leonard, Peter Mygind, Sue Perkins
Direction: Paul Feig
Rating: ** and 1/2
Director Paul Feig's "Last Christmas" is for romance junkies. Packed with frothy soppiness, it is a rehash of the clumsiest-meets-cute formula.
Set in the backdrop of Christmas in London, it tells us the story of Kate (Emilia Clarke), a 26-year-old Yugoslavian settled in the UK. She is endearing but clumsy to the core. She wants to be a professional singer, but works in a store selling Christmas decorations because that's the only job she manages to cling on to.
Despite having a family, she prefers to be homeless because her concerned, neurotic mother has literally driven her entire family away.
In this chaotic life of hers, she meets, the handsome and charming Tom Webster (Henry Golding), who is annoyingly mysterious, understanding and constantly giving her unsolicited life lessons. How she gradually falls Â- hook, line and sinker Â- for him, forms the crux of the narrative.
Written by Emma Thompson and Bryony Kimmings, the narrative meanders. The film begins on a chaotic note and in the end takes you by surprise. The entire film is a continuous flashback of "Last Christmas".
The writing is the weakest link in this film. The characters are cardboard thin, the sub-plots look forced and sometimes the story doesn't advance a lot, but it still holds your attention with unfunny oneliners and a string of George Michael songs, as if paying homage to the singer.
Right from the title song "Last Christmas" to "Everything she wants" to "Heal the pain" and "Faith" to "Freedom 90" and "One more try", the narrative is stitched together with the songs and the story of Kate is incidental. The romance, unfortunately, is not too intense and thus, the on-screen chemistry between the lead pair, is missing.
Emilia Clarke portrays Kate with ease but her screwball comedian act, seems obligatory. Golding, who had earlier appeared in "Crazy Rich Asians", has a charming disposition, but is short-changed by the script.
The duo is aptly supported by Michelle Yeoh as Kate's stressed-out employer, Emma Thompson as Kate's over reactive mom, Boris Isakovic as Kate's Dad, and Lydia Leonard as Kate's sister Martha. Each actor is a natural and has moments of on-screen glory.
Overall, this is not one of the best or unique Christmas romance stories, nor is it electrifying and fascinating, but it surely highlights that Christmas and romance go hand-in-hand, albeit erratically.