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  • David MumeniEmilia Clarke...
  • ComedyRomance
  • Paul Feig
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Yasmeen Mamdouh
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Last Christmas: The Story of a Modern-Day Grinch

Featured image: © A Universal Release.2019 Universal Studios – via


The grinch working as an elf in a shop selling Christmas decorations? Well, a modern-day grinch who is grumpy all year round does, in the new feature Last Christmas.

The film follows self-destructive Christmas shop elf, Kate (Emilia Clarke), as she stumbles through life sleeping with strangers, getting drunk alone, and getting on her friends’ nerves as she repeatedly clashes with one after the other. On another disastrous day at work for her angry boss and shop owner, who calls herself Santa (Michelle Yeoh), Kate spots a stranger in front of the shop, just standing there and looking up. After some banter, the said stranger, Tom (Henry Golding), proceeds to show her that there might be more to life than she thinks. With love in the air, can Kate steer away from her self-destructive path? And if so, will Tom stay?

The plot seems just like another holiday rom-com but is actually more about dealing with past trauma and finding joy in life. It is not hard to relate to someone being on a dark path, who does nothing but hurt themselves – especially after a trauma. What is fresh about that the feature is that it does not put out the unrealistic, run-of-the-mill message that love will solve everything.

On the other hand, the film is just as much of a mess as its main character, with its many crammed ideas; from immigrant status in the UK and homelessness to family estrangement and the consequences of illness. Some of the ideas were logically developed, while others were left hanging, which gives the audience the impression that some of them were forced into the plotline to make the film more than a holiday rom-com.

Rather than being mesmerising, the romantic aspect of the rom-com was subtle. The comedy part generated constant chuckles, rather than loud laughter, but it still manages to be charming enough to keep the audience entertained.

As for the acting, Emilia Clarke is able to be a lovable cynic, giving an outstandingly plausible performance with which the audience can sympathise, and even relate to. Henry Golding could have brought more quirkiness to his character; nevertheless, his performance was, overall, just as strong. 

Playing Kate’s mother, Emma Thompson was brutally brilliant with the aid of the funny script, which she also helped write. Michelle Yeoh was also able to stand out as a supporting character and deliver a performance that added much to the feature.

Not your average rom-com, Last Christmas is worth seeing, even if it doesn’t steal your heart away.


Like This? Try

Love Actually (2003), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), and The Holiday (2006).

360 Tip

Emilia Clarke did her own singing in the film.

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