Last Christmas review – a grisly, sub-Richard Curtis festive pudding

This shameless attempt by screenwriter Emma Thompson to siphon off the eggnog flavour from Love Actually is clunky and weird

For years, Richard Curtis has attracted imitators to his brand of upscale London romcom. This squelchingly sub-Curtis effort is a case in point, and what’s so baffling is that it is co-written by Emma Thompson, whose undoubted screenplay skills form part of her unique double-Oscar achievement (one for acting in Howards End, the other for adapting Sense and Sensibility). And it is directed by the equally estimable Paul Feig, who gave us Bridesmaids and the Ghostbusters remake.

This grisly Christmassy adventure features unbearable skittery-giggly dialogue of the sort not spoken by actual humans, while it attempts to siphon off the eggnog flavour from Curtis’s Love Actually, with a female lead who is a Frankenstein’s-monster mix of Bridget Jones and the quirky sister from Notting Hill. The film is supposedly inspired by the music of the late George Michael – who gave his permission some years ago – and when the connection between the twist reveal and Michael’s lyrics dawns on you, there is a real danger of you going into anaphylactic shock. Suffice it to say that this reveal is a time-honoured conceit that has featured in a number of films, some by very grand directors. But the weird thing is that Michael’s music and personality do not feature all that much.

Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones) plays Kate, a wannabe singer who has a terrible day job working in a Christmas store, selling baubles while humiliatingly dressed as an elf; her manager is a woman calling herself Santa, played by Michelle Yeoh. Kate has a number of private problems, including a tricky relationship with her Croatian mum, played by Thompson. Then she meets dishy but enigmatic Tom, played by Henry Golding, and her life seems as if it is about to change.

There is some heart-in-the-right-place material about Brexit and bigots on the bus, and Last Christmas arguably deserves points for being one of the very few, or perhaps the only mainstream film to talk about Brexit. But everything about this clunks.

• Last Christmas is released in the UK on 15 November.

Contributor

Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Last Christmas review – Emma Thompson's romcom is an overstuffed turkey
An attempt to pay tribute to the music of George Michael and the fandom of Love Actually fails on both counts and at many more things along the way

Benjamin Lee

06, Nov, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
Last Christmas: hearts, history and Heal the Pain – discuss with spoilers
Does the trailer reveal too much? Did anyone bother to check the dates of the Yugoslav wars? And can a George Michael vehicle really be as sexless as a stollen?

Guy Lodge

19, Nov, 2019 @1:07 PM

Article image
Last Christmas: first trailer for Emma Thompson romcom featuring the music of George Michael
Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding star in the yuletide release, which is scripted by and co-stars Thompson, with Paul Feig as director

Guardian Film

14, Aug, 2019 @6:02 AM

Article image
Last Christmas review – cliched festive failure
George Michael’s music is wasted in Paul Feig’s comedy of excruciating life lessons

Wendy Ide

17, Nov, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
Last Christmas may be the worst film of the year – so why is it box-office gold?
Written by Emma Thompson, directed by Paul Feig of Bridesmaids, soundtracked by George Michael – and panned by critics. Why are audiences flocking to see it?

Dylan B Jones

21, Nov, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
Unreleased George Michael music to feature in Last Christmas film
The London-set romantic comedy to be directed by Paul Feig will include the Wham! classic as well as other, unheard tracks

Laura Snapes

29, Oct, 2018 @10:45 AM

Article image
Is Emilia Clarke about to fall in love with a ghost in Last Christmas?
After the trailer for the Emma Thompson-scripted rom-com dropped, the internet has become convinced that a big twist is heading our way

Stuart Heritage

16, Aug, 2019 @4:10 AM

Article image
George Michael-inspired 'holiday romance' film Last Christmas in the works
Screenplay co-written by Emma Thompson, due to be directed by Paul Feig, was developed with the Wham! singer before his death

Andrew Pulver

19, Jul, 2018 @11:36 AM

Article image
Paul Feig: 'Male humour always devolves into homophobia and name-calling'
The director adores working with women – but did the all-female Ghostbusters furore change that? Not a bit, he says

Rebecca Nicholson

18, Oct, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
Richard Curtis: Love Actually a 'catastrophe'
Ben Child: Writer-director of 2003 hit film says tight editing schedule to ensure Christmas release created ‘nightmare scenario’

Ben Child

06, Oct, 2014 @8:22 AM