By Socrate Kiabala
Some weekends ago, I took myself out to the cinema to watch Last Christmas. I did so because it was one of the films that I personally wanted to see for the last few weeks, and because of its poor reputation within the film critic community. One-star reviews, cries of ‘trite’ and ‘boring’ are just the nicer examples.
Personally, I disagree with the critics. I thought that Last Christmas was an enjoyable affair in the first viewing. Even so, I knew that there was nothing special about it. For the most part, it was your average romantic comedy with a protagonist who is often down on her luck encountering a rather eccentric man who doesn’t really sweep her off her feet but shows her how to loosen up. If one is rather familiar with the romcom genre, they might be able to spot at least one romcom trope or convention at play throughout the film.
Fortunately, there are two catches that save this from being a bland experience. The unique selling points, if you may. The obvious one is the music of the late George Michael playing an integral role in the film. The production team saw to it that they used some of his songs during the right moment, and they pulled it off for the most part. I didn’t think that Praying for Time would be used in the scene where Kate and Tom, the film’s protagonists and lead couple, ice skate with each other in a closed rink, but it just worked. Likewise, Freedom couldn’t have been a better song for the scene where Kate makes amends with everyone in her life, including her flatmates and estranged sister.
What made me appreciate it more was the second-act plot twist, which somehow changed the entire perspective and premise of the film. This is the second catch. I’ll try not to spoil too much, but what started off as a by-the-numbers romcom relying on a unique selling point suddenly turned into a story about a cynical and unlucky young woman learning to love herself, appreciate the company around her and be thankful for the life she has. Just when I thought that Kate was carrying around numerous death flags.
Last Christmas is my surprise recommendation. While it may be too late to watch it by now, I suggest that you watch it next Christmas. Will it join the ranks of modern Christmas film classics and share the same space as Elf and Home Alone? Only time will tell, and so will public opinion. Personally, I see it as a future festive guilty pleasure.