Certainly not your standard Christmas film, students from Buxton Community School find out there's much more to Last Christmas.
Not being one for soppy, romantic Christmas films full of forced humour, I’ll admit that I was worried about the idea of Last Christmas, especially after reading a few film critics’ scathing judgements. And once I’d seen the main character Kate sing in a Yugoslavian choir, meet an angry woman in a shower, and be pursued by a clown with an air horn on the way to her job in a Christmas shop, all before George Michael was even halfway through his first musical number, I was sure that my worst suspicions had been confirmed. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Directed by Paul Feig, Last Christmas follows the story of Kate and Tom – perfectly portrayed by Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding – as they make their way around 2017 London during the festive season. Beautifully back-lit by the lights of the capital at Christmas, and wonderfully embellished by a top-class supporting cast including Emma Thompson and Michelle Yeoh, the film is brilliant at working in smaller side stories that keep you rooting for almost every character, not just the lead roles. Admittedly, the whole story is liberally sprinkled with a sizeable handful of film clichés, but Feig manages weave them into the story in a way that doesn’t feel forced or over-the-top. Last Christmas is, so far, one of the most watchable Christmas films I’ve seen.
And what of WHAM!, I hear you ask? Surely, in a film that shares its name with one of their most well-known hits, their music will be hard to escape. Again, such a misconception couldn’t be wider of the mark. Although there are a few subtle references to George Michael himself, each scene is backed by such a fitting song that you often won’t realise it’s there. And while the grand finale sing-song does perhaps spell out the story of the film in a slightly forced way, it can be excused as an explanation to those who can’t quite get their heads around the mind-bending plot twist that will make you question everything you thought you knew about the film.
Last Christmas is a film that tackles a massive range of modern problems, from mental health to family issues to homelessness in a truly innovative way, and manages to keep Christmas only subtly interlaced with the plot while centred around an all-year-round Christmas shop.
A film that starts silly and ends deeper than you can imagine, Last Christmas is a genuinely moving portrayal of modern life that manages to include a twist that literally nobody expects in a way that feels right, when it should feel like the biggest cop-out of the 21st century. Rather than leaving the cinema feeling angry about the lack of explanation, I felt happy with how it had ended, and while I’ll be thinking back over the film for days to come and questioning everything I was sure of before arriving, I’m happy to do that in a way that rarely happens after such a mind-boggling film.
I implore everyone who hasn’t already to go and see this film, and if you get nothing else out of it (highly doubtful), I can guarantee at least one thing – you’ll never listen to Last Christmas in the same way again.