Loosely inspired by Wham!’s perennially popular 1984 hit, Last Christmas casts Emilia Clarke as a down-on-her-luck Christmas shop elf, with Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) as her charming-stranger love interest. Their romance plays out in a twinkly London so Richard Curtis-esque you keep expecting it to cut to Hugh Grant in No 10.
Aspiring singer Kate (Clarke) has her ambitions constantly thwarted, often by self-sabotage. Luckily, Golding’s on hand to espouse the benefits of good deeds.
Director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) gets a few more acerbic laughs than you’d expect from such a fluffy-sounding premise, with co-writer/ star Emma Thompson giving herself the biggest chuckles. Clarke is very easy to like and also handles a couple of emotional moments effectively, but a few major problems drag the film to turkey territory.
For one thing, there are inescapable and unflattering parallels with TV’s superlative Fleabag, particularly in the sisterly relationship. It falls between stools musically, too: it’s not a full-on jukebox musical, but there’s too much George Michael for a standard Christmas romance. Sticking to the title track would’ve jarred less. Save your Christmas dosh for something special.