Last Christmas (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Feig|
|Music by||Theodore Shapiro|
|Edited by||Brent White|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$121.6 million|
Last Christmas is a 2019 romantic comedy film directed by Paul Feig and written by Bryony Kimmings and Emma Thompson, who co-wrote the story with her husband, Greg Wise. Based on the song of the same name, and inspired by the music of George Michael, the film stars Emilia Clarke as a disillusioned Christmas store worker who forms a relationship with a mysterious man (Henry Golding) and begins to fall for him; Thompson and Michelle Yeoh also star.
Last Christmas was theatrically released in the United States on 8 November 2019 and in the United Kingdom on 15 November 2019 by Universal Pictures. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the performances and chemistry of Clarke and Golding but criticised the screenplay and plot twist. The film was a box office success, grossing $121 million worldwide. The 1980s Entertainment Center of the World appears as a closing logo.
Katarina "Kate", a young aspiring singer, works a dead-end job as an elf at a year-round Christmas shop in Central London, whose owner calls herself "Santa". She is homeless after being forced out by her flatmate. While at work, she notices a man outside staring upwards. She talks with him, learning that his name is Tom.
After an unsuccessful singing audition, Kate sees Tom again and they go for a walk, where he charms her with his unusual observations of London. Upon isolating herself from her oldest friend, Kate is forced to return to her parents' home. Yugoslavian immigrants, her mother, Petra, suffers from depression and her father, a former lawyer, works as a minicab driver as he can not afford to retrain to practice law in the United Kingdom. Kate feels suffocated by her mother, who dotes on her while ignoring Kate's sister, Marta, a successful lawyer.
Kate begins spending more time with Tom, who rides a bike and volunteers at a homeless shelter, which she initially mocks. Looking for Tom, who says he keeps his phone in a cupboard and often disappears for days at a time, she begins helping at the shelter in the hope of running into him, but finds that the staff has never met him.
While celebrating Marta's promotion, Kate spitefully outs Marta, a lesbian. She then runs into Tom, who takes her back to his apartment. Kate reveals that, a year earlier, she was seriously ill and had to have a heart transplant. Kate says she feels half dead and questions whether she has the talent to make it as a performer. After opening up to Tom, Kate tries to initiate sex, but he declines.
After spending the night with Tom, Kate begins taking small steps to improve her life; taking care of her body, setting up Santa with a Danish man who loves Christmas as much as she does, apologising to Marta and her girlfriend, and singing Christmas songs to busk for money for the shelter. After a few days she runs into Tom again, who says he has something important to tell her, but she preemptively asserts he is fearful of commitment, and walks away.
Kate continues to try to do good in her daily life. Finally, wanting to make amends with Tom, she returns to his apartment only to meet an estate agent who is holding viewings. After some initial confusion about who owns the flat, he reveals that the previous owner was killed in a bicycle accident last Christmas and the place has been vacant during the probate process. Finding his phone in the cupboard, Kate realises that Tom was the organ donor whose heart she received, and that all their interactions were hallucinations. Going to a small garden, which was Tom's favourite place, Kate encounters him again where he says his heart will always belong to her. The bench on which they sat during their first trip to the garden is revealed to be a memorial bench for Tom.
For Christmas, Kate organises a show utilizing the talents of the people at the shelter and inviting all of her friends and family, including the newly coupled Santa and Danish man. Kate delicately performs a solo of the Wham! song, "Last Christmas," intertwined with flashbacks of her so-called "encounters" with Tom until revelry ensues when the curtain rises and she is joined by the band of performers. Later, Kate and the family celebrate Christmas together joined by Alba, Marta's girlfriend, for the first time.
The Christmas celebration fades out and a bright light transitions to a summer scene where a visibly healthier Kate is seen writing in her journal in the garden to which Tom introduced her. Smiling and visibly happy, Kate looks up, as Tom always advised.
- Emilia Clarke as Katarina "Kate"
- Henry Golding as Tom Webster
- Michelle Yeoh as Huang Qing Shin/"Santa"
- Emma Thompson as Petra
- Ritu Arya as Jenna
- Rob Delaney as Theatre Director
- Patti LuPone as Joyce
- Ansu Kabia as Rufus
- Lydia Leonard as Marta
- Sue Perkins as Ice Show Director
- Peter Serafinowicz as Theatre Producer
In addition, Madison Ingoldsby and Lucy Miller portray the young Kate and Marta, respectively. Andrew Ridgeley, from the duo Wham!, whose song "Last Christmas" is instrumental to the plot, makes a cameo appearance in the audience at the end of the film.
In September 2018, it was reported that Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding would star in a London-set romantic comedy taking place at Christmas, titled Last Christmas. Paul Feig was set to direct, with Emma Thompson co-writing the screenplay. In October, it was announced that Thompson would star as well, and that the film would feature the music of the late singer George Michael, including "Last Christmas", and previously unreleased tracks. In November 2018, Michelle Yeoh joined the cast of the film.
Last Christmas was filmed from 26 November 2018 to February 2019. Filming locations included Piccadilly Circus, the Strand, Regent Street, the Thames Embankment, Covent Garden (where the Christmas shop is located), West London Film Studios, St Marylebone Parish Church and the Phoenix Garden.
On 31 October 2019, Thompson and Wise published a collection of personal essays about the meaning of Christmas in a book also called Last Christmas. Contributors include Andy Serkis, Caitlin Moran, Olivia Colman and Emily Watson. The profits from the book went to two charities, Crisis and The Refugee Council.
An official soundtrack album was released by Sony Music on CD, two-disc vinyl, and digital formats on 8 November 2019. The album contains 14 Wham! and solo George Michael songs, as well as a previously unreleased song originally completed in 2015 titled "This Is How (We Want You to Get High)". The soundtrack album debuted at number one on the UK Official Soundtrack Albums Chart and at number 11 on the UK Albums Chart on 15 November 2019. It also entered the Australian Albums Chart at number seven, the Irish Albums Chart, where it debuted at number 32, climbing to number 26 the following week, and at number 55 on the US Billboard 200.
Last Christmas grossed $35.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $86.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $121.6 million.
In the United States and Canada, Last Christmas was released alongside Doctor Sleep, Midway, and Playing with Fire, and was projected to gross $13–19 million from 3,448 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $4.1 million on its first day, including $575,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $11.6 million, finishing fourth, behind its fellow newcomers. In its second weekend, the film grossed $6.7 million, finishing fifth. The film took in $3 million during its third weekend, finishing ninth and losing 1,043 theaters.
In the United Kingdom it debuted to £2.7 million, from 612 cinemas, finishing first.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 46% based on 196 reviews, with an average rating of 5.38/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Likable leads, terrific behind-the-scenes talent, and an intriguing musical hook aren't enough to save Last Christmas from its poorly conceived story." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 50 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 3 out of 5 stars.
Owen Gleiberman of Variety gave the film a negative review and wrote, "It's twee, it's precious, it's forced. And it's light on true romance, maybe because the movie itself is a little too in love with itself." John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter called it a misfire, however adding, "it earns some warm feelings for its determination not to be like anything else currently in circulation." Alonso Duralde of TheWrap compared the film to a Christmas album, and said it was not as good as Paul Feig's best work, though "it fulfills a craving for sticky Christmas pudding."
Charles Bramesco of The A.V. Club called the film "a guilty pleasure" but criticised the plot twist as predictable. He praised Clarke for her performance, saying "she succeeds in the only real meaningful test of rom-com skill, in that she makes us want her to be happy."
David Fear of Rolling Stone described the film as "incredibly, shockingly, monumentally bad. The kind of bad that falls somewhere between finding a lump of coal in your stocking and discovering one painfully lodged in your rectum."
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