Review of ‘Last Christmas’

Review of 'Last Christmas'

Right, the Michael factor: The title is based on Wham’s mournful 1986 song, which took on new meaning after the singer’s death on December 25th, 2016. (Keep this date in mind.) After being approached with an offer to write a narrative based on the song, Thompson, her collaborator/husband Greg Wise, and her cowriter Bryony Kimmings came up with a Christmas movie that heavily influenced by his music.

Review of ‘Last Christmas’

While the finished result never goes full Mamma Mia, it does imply that a scene of Kate waking up, for example, will be followed with a video of Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.” Which gets us to the real spoiler of the story: Last Christmas was a disaster. It’s unbelievable, surprising, and monumentally horrible. It’s the kind of terrible that’s halfway between finding a lump of coal in your stocking and discovering one lodged in your rectum. The kind of terrible that happens when you gather together a group of extremely talented individuals and then have to watch them flail around, lost and sweaty, attempting to craft a romantic comedy that is woefully lacking in both elements. If it weren’t for the sound of everyone applauding themselves on the back, you could almost hear the tolerance messaging — same-sex nuptials, homelessness, anti-immigrant bigotry, Brexit — being ticked off a checklist.

The kind of terrible that happens when you try for the Richard Curtis sweet spot à la Love Actually and end up face-first in a pile of garbage, exactly like your protagonist. Clarke’s Kate is, indeed, a shambles. She’ll never be able to compete with the film she’s in. You wish for a trio of dragons to swoop down from the sky and burn everything down, along with the film’s prints as a bonus. (Of course, we’re joking.) Prints of movies are no longer exhibited in multiplexes.) How this came to be a tainted-tinsel disaster is, to be honest, a more intriguing mystery than the one at the centre of the story. Clarke possesses all of the characteristics of a screwball comedian. Golding has a lot of screen presence and charisma. Thompson delivering dick jokes in a thick Eastern European dialect sounds hilarious on paper; we’re also talking about the woman who wrote the screenplay for Sense and Sensibility, the gold standard for how to do modern lit-classic adaptations right.

Bridesmaids, Spy, and several significant episodes of NBC’s The Office were directed by Paul Feig. Even if you don’t care for the song that gives the film its title, George Michael’s back catalogue is emotionally powerful and ready for the full-soundtrack treatment. Who couldn’t use a story drenched in human kindness’s milk? Individually, the ingredients appear to be fail-safe. When you put it all together, it’s a flavourless mess that’s paced like a slowly leaking faucet and cut together in a way that makes you wonder if the editors were being chased by the cops. It’s understandable that Last Christmas won’t be released until the end of December, but rather on the eve of Thanksgiving. It’s a turkey straight out of a holiday film.

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