"Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special…"
The movie "Last Christmas", released in 2019, is based on this song by Wham, a very popular UK pop duo from the early 80s. It was an extremely sensational song and it sold millions of copies. The lyrics of this song is the literal story of the film, encompassed within an emotional narration and lifelike acting. The review of 'Last Christmas' could be confusing as it has had heavy criticisms when it was released in 2019. It did not perform that well at the box office either. But the film has a slow-seep feel that captures one's heart each time you watch it. It's like a slo-mo emotional drama, interspersed with light humour and metaphors.
The highlight of the film is obviously Emilia Clarke, with her stunning screen presence and easy acting skills. She doesn't act, she lives the role of Katarina Andrich, or Kate as she likes to be called, whose family migrated to the UK from Yugoslavia. The film contains snippets of racial discrimination, not too dark enough to take away the feel of the rom-com, just enough to let you know these things still happen around us. Young Kate was an aspiring singer and performer, who feels different after her heart transplant surgery. She feels strongly about her heart being replaced, like it's not her heart, so it isn't her. She refuses to take care of the heart, drinks too much, eats unhealthy, doesn't exercise and loses her singing along the road. Kate works as an elf at an all year Christmas store, under a kind, good hearted but stern employer who calls herself Santa.
The plot starts unfolding when Kate accidentally meets young Tom Webster, played by Henry Golding, and he teaches her about the little joys in life. He takes her into his hold, warms her heart and prompts her to care for it more. Tom often disappears for days, forcing Kate to be discouraged about her developing feelings for him. She starts reaching out to people, connecting with her lost side of empathy and tries to make amends, in the hope to meet Tom again each time he disappears without a word (having locked his phone in a cupboard). Kate volunteers at the homeless shelter, something she's never done before, she reconciles with her depressed mother,Petra, played by Emma Thompson and makes it up to her only sister, Martha (Lydia Leonard) who got sidelined by their parents because Kate was ill.
On screen, Emilia lives the life of a young woman, who wants to regain her spirit but is too disembodied from herself to do that. Tom helps her in her attempt, with gentle pushes and reminders that life has more to it than we see. They fall in love, like a sweet gentle melody playing. Kate becomes happier, she starts singing again, takes care of herself and feels the spirit of herself and the holidays in and around her. The plot twists at the end slightly to reveal that Tom had died in a bike accident last Christmas and he was Kate's heart donor. It was the bond of their hearts that enabled Kate to see Tom when no one else could. It was a huge blow on Kate, but she overcomes it, living both her life and Tom's through his beating heart inside her. She knows and as Tom himself tells her , "My heart would have been yours either way". Kate picks up back to her musical performances and enjoys life, spreading joy and spirit on Tom's behalf.
As per the movie review, the story isn't new. It isn't a big cliche either. There have been similar novels and movies earlier too. But what makes Last Christmas different is its presence on screen. Every character seems very realistic and the music is incorporated perfectly. The dialogues, lighting, and direction makes this film an exceptionally good feel-good rom-com with its elements placed just right. The spirit and joy of not just Christmas or festivities, but that of life and the spirit within, is beautifully portrayed in the film. The heartache of loss and the joy of life are two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other.
To sum up the movie review, Last Christmas is a beautiful metaphor. It has emotion, spirited in its most vulnerable phases. The song "Last Christmas'' echoes in the heart and soul of everyone who holds life dear. The heart is not just any organ. It is what embodies life after all.
Last Christmas..I gave you my heart..
But the very next day..you gave it away...
This year...to save me from tears..
I'll give it to someone special!
-Sruthi Anitha Sreekumar