Movie review / ‘Last Christmas’ (PG)

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“Last Christmas” (PG) ***

IT comes but once a year, this originally pagan festival of thanksgiving for the winter solstice that Christianity hijacked to commemorate the more joyous half of its fundamental message and arrant mercantilism later converted back into a travesty of its origins.

In a London arcade, Santa (the winsome Michelle Yeoh) is the proprietor of a shop selling tatty Christmas stuff year round. Her only employee is Kate (Emelia Clarke, probably best known for Daenerys in “Game of Thrones”), daughter of Yugoslavian refugees Ivan (Boris Isakovic) and Petra (Emma Thompson).

In her thirties, Kate is the archetypal daffy blonde who still hasn’t worked out what she wants from life. 

Yes, people. This is Britain’s 2019 Christmas movie. How does it stack up against “Love Actually”, since its release in 2003 the quintessential Xmas rom-com which has found a deserved place in Christmas TV programming? Well, were it not for Emma Thompson, the comparison might have been much more odious, less for her performance here of a somewhat bypassed wife and mother than for the brittle, clever, razor sharp, pointed wit with which she wrote the screenplay that she sent on spec to director Paul Feig.

“Last Christmas” turns out to be a subtle yet merciless, loosely disguised satire on Christmas mercantilism, interwoven with a poignant romantic thread involving Kate and the mysterious Tom (Henry Golding, the handsome son of a Brit father and a Malaysian mom). It’s had a mixed reception in the UK since its release there as well as here. I liked it well enough, but it’s rather a curate’s egg – good in parts, less so in others.

At all cinemas

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
"Last Christmas" (PG) ***
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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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