Movie Review: 'Last Christmas'

John Thomas
The first clue as to where the story will take the viewer is in the title. Actually Last Christmas offers more than just one clue. Kate (Emilia Clarke) is a carefree somewhat reckless young woman bouncing around London with a devil-may-care attitude. She bounces from friend to friend for brief over-night stays until finally, having exhausted all her options, moves home to mother. 
Her mother Petra (Emma Thompson) has moved their family of four from Croatia to London, settling in a row house in a modest neighborhood – not at all aligned with Kate’s lifestyle. 
The only real anchor in Kate’s life is her temporary job working in a Christmas shop in downtown London. The work is temporary because it’s seasonal and at times, Kate’s employer finds it challenging to deal with her spirited employee. 
One day Kate notices a young man standing in front of the shop and gazing upward. His name is Tom (Henry Golding), and he has just paused on his way to work to look at a rare bird sitting on a metal beam above the window of the shop. She goes outside, they exchange words and both return to their errands. Soon after they chance to meet again and have a short conversation. 
He mentions he volunteers at a homeless shelter. She decides that helping the homeless is a worthy task, especially around Christmas. She soon puts the idea of generating funds for the home into action by dancing and singing carols in front of the shelter while wearing her working elf costume. 
She sees Tom again. This time he offers to show her his favorite small pocket-park tucked away from the bustling holiday traffic. Amidst the twinkling holiday decorations the two sit on a bench that has a brass dedication plaque attached to the back (another clue).
Petra has adjusted to having Kate around, but insists that if she remains home, she must visit her doctor for a checkup (additional clue). The physician questioning Kate’s lifestyle hears a different report from the mother and her daughter. Petra describes her daughter’s wild lifestyle. Kate says her lifestyle is similar to that of a nun in a convent. That chore out of the way, Kate continues working at the Christmas shop and having chance meetings with Tom. On one occasion, he finally decides to invite her to his apartment. His home is show-room perfect, everything in order. It’s almost as though no one lives there (clue).
Then Tom disappears for a time. Kate is puzzled by his disappearance and the fact that no one at the shelter knows of a Tom working there (one more clue). Nevertheless, Kate proceeds with her plans for presenting a lavish Christmas show at the shelter. She has arranged dance numbers, planned songs and designed the staging – all with the idea of raising funds for the home. The event is a huge success, everyone is happy and then Tom “reappears.”
Directored by Paul Feig (Credits: A Simple Favor, Bridesmaids) Last Christmas is a “see” movie that runs 105 minutes.


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