If you know the song “Last Christmas” by Wham!, then you know what’s going to happen in the movie Last Christmas.
Not exaggerating! The movie’s big twist is right there in the song’s first line (“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart”), and honestly, that’s part of its charm. It’s dressed up with all the trappings of a rom-com when really it’s about finding yourself after a traumatic near-death experience that leaves you adrift.
The story follows Kate (Emilia Clarke), a shopgirl for a Christmas store who coasts through life without considering the consequences after enduring a long illness that ended with a heart transplant the year before. One day, she begins seeing Tom (Henry Golding) almost everywhere she goes. Despite her issues and his penchant for disappearing for days on end — do you see where this is going? Do you??? — Kate finds herself connecting with Tom in ways she hasn’t been able to connect with anyone since before her surgery.
But after Tom tells her she can’t depend on him, she starts living for herself by giving back to her community and mending her relationships with her Croatian parents (Emma Thompson, who also co-wrote the film, and Boris Isaković), her closeted sister (Lydia Leonard) and her tough-as-nails-but-softie-at-heart boss (Michelle Yeoh).
So, yes. Turns out Tom was a ghost of Kate’s heart donor the whole time. Most people caught that just from the trailers, and knowing the twist ahead of time doesn’t do anything to ruin the movie. On the contrary, knowing that Tom is basically It’s A Wonderful Life-ing Kate makes the movie that much sweeter while you watch it.
Some might find it overly saccharine, but the combined charms of Clarke and Golding do a lot to ground the film in a place that feels real and not too quirky. Additional credit for this can be attributed to Paul Feig’s sympathetic direction and Thompson and Greg Wise’s clever script, which also embeds the discography of George Michael and Wham! into the movie in such an even-handed way that it’s like the best possible version of a jukebox musical.
This Blu-ray release comes with a surprisingly robust selection of special features, from a commentary with Feig and Thompson to behind-the-scenes featurettes with punny titles like “Pure Golding” and “12 Days of Production,” as well as deleted scenes and an alternate ending.
As far as Christmas movies go, you could do a lot worse than Last Christmas. It’s certainly a step up from the Hallmark movies, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it earns a spot among the perennial holiday rewatches come Christmastime.
Last Christmas is now available on Digital and DVD / Blu-Ray on February 4th.