SPOILERS FOR LAST CHRISTMAS FOLLOW, YOU ARE WARNED
Last Christmas is a quirky, weird little movie (read Kristy’s review!) that does some things really well (everything Michelle Yeoh does!) and some things not so well (the George Michael connection feels very tacked on!) and some things very, very badly. And firmly belonging in that latter category is this: Why doesn’t this movie let Henry Golding and Emilia Clarke fuck? Emilia is crying here because she agrees with me!
As everyone on the Internet suspected when that first trailer dropped, Golding’s Tom Webster character isn’t a real human man (although truly, our world is better off with Extremely Handsome Person Golding in it). The George Michael line “Last Christmas, I gave my heart” is literal here! Rewatch the trailer to refresh yourself:
Honestly, I’m not sure whether Last Christmas has a strong grasp on whether Tom is a ghost, a figment of Kate/Katarina’s imagination, or a guardian angel. (Kristy digs deep into that question here!) His interactions with Kate/Katarina begin as if he’s just a normal dude looking out for her in strange but charming ways, like urging her to pay more attention to her surroundings, enjoy life, get out of her unhealthy routines, and eat better. He even goofily dances to do it!
And then he’s very suave, so it evens out!
Tom’s attention and concern for Kate/Katarina is a little overwhelming, but he disappears for a few days at a time, returning only when Kate/Katarina seems to need him the most. Eventually, the film begins to tip its hand that Tom isn’t real — his absences are increasingly lengthy, and as Kate begins to stand on her own, you realize the film is more about her than about them. And when we finally receive a Fight Club-style montage of flashbacks, we see that most of the experiences that Kate thought she was sharing with Tom were actually on her own: figure skating alone, eating alone, and sitting on a park bench alone. The park bench decorated with a plaque commemorating Tom’s life, from 1986 to 2016, and his motto, “Look up!” Get it? It’s literal but also figurative! Such DEPTH! When Kate/Katarina meets Tom again, he admits to her that he was the organ donor who gave her his heart, and he urges her to take joy in life: “Take care of my heart. It was always going to be yours, one way or another.”
That’s sort of touching! I blinked back a tear or two! But what I do not understand is why this movie does not let these two very attractive people get down. The first half of the movie devotes itself to their budding romance, and it’s frustratingly chaste! They kiss ONCE and that is IT! I’ve seen Ghost, dammit! I know what this movie was capable of, and it betrayed us!
To be fair, it’s not just the Golding/Clarke romance that suffers. Kate/Katarina’s sister Marta (Lydia Leonard) is given a long-term, live-in girlfriend Alba (Jade Anouka) — and in her worst moment, Kate/Katarina outs her sister to their parents — and we never once see them kiss, either. Marta and Alba dance together once, and Alba makes a Christmas tiramisu that Kate/Katarina and Marta’s mother Petra (Thompson) calls “lesbian pudding,” but otherwise there are no hugs, embraces, or moments of physical intimacy. What gives? Why are we being denied holiday-themed sexy times?!
I’m not sure if Last Christmas’s attempt to be a new holiday classic is why it so wholly falls down on sexual content, but it really does not earn that PG-13 rating, aside from a few one-night stands (which the movie signifies by giving Kate smudged eye makeup, the true sign of a Bad Girl), some cursing, some drinking, and that whole “the co-main character ends up being dead the whole time” thing. Maybe director Paul Feig and co-writers Emma Thompson, Greg Wise, and Bryony Kimmings tamped down on that because they wanted to focus the story more on the spirit of the season? That feels like a disservice to George Michael, who veered his career toward increasingly racy sexual content as it progressed, but whatever. All I’m saying is: Next time you cast Henry Golding in something (and maybe that will be James Bond, as Last Christmas slyly suggests), you better do right by that man. And by us thirsty motherfuckers!
Header Image Source: Universal