Last Christmas a Heart Was Lost- A Movie Review

Elyssa Huff, Writer

     It’s that time of year again, folks. The time when holiday and Christmas specials are abound, each one of them ready for enjoyment or ridicule, or perhaps both. 

     This year, we took a look at the current holiday sensation in theaters, Last Christmas. The film was released on November 8 and has had a successful financial run thus far, earning $55 million from a $30 million budget. It has been buzzed about substantially, and I figured it was about time to go to the movie and see what all the fuss is about. 

     First, we get introduced to our main character, Kate (played by the wonderful Emilia Clarke, who deserves better), an elf at a gaudy Christmas store and a die-hard George Michael fan. She is apparently a bad person, and we know that she is a bad person because of her nightly sexual liaisons with different men;  her general disregard for her mother’s calls; and her turbulent relationship with her “best friend,” in which she knocks over a card tower and gets kicked out of the only home she has, rendering her homeless. She aspires to be an actress, although she routinely forgets her duties to actually appear at the auditions. Oh, and she has an apparent medical issue from a year ago that has changed her character, which becomes important later on. Such is the introduction to Kate. 

     While working, she meets the enigmatic and just generally weird Tom, who charms her with his strange observations of London and his attention to the way that birds land on buildings. He keeps his phone in a cupboard, volunteers at a homeless shelter, and disappears for days at a time. So, yeah. He’s an interesting guy, to say the least. 

     The two quickly strike up a bit of a rapport, and, in typical rom-com style, he helps her to fix her life, like the saint he is. Kate later opens up to him about her health issues, revealing that she underwent a heart transplant the previous year. She admits that she has felt half-dead since the operation, and she questions whether she has the talent to make it as a performer on stage. 

     Time passes, and Kate’s interactions with Tom cause her to want to make changes in her life. She begins to take care of her body better by eating healthier foods, and she sets up her boss with a patron of the store who loves Christmas as much as her boss does. Even though Tom later rejects a romantic relationship with Kate, leading her to believe that he does not love her, she continues, admirably, to try to improve her life. 

     Now, thus far, it seems like a pretty typical Christmas rom-com with the sappy love story and self-improvement message. A twist looms on the horizon, however, and it is a pretty big one: Tom is actually a ghost (or a figment of Kate’s imagination, whatever), and he was killed in a bicycle crash a year ago. For an even bigger twist: as you might have guessed given the timeline, Tom was an organ donor, and his heart is the one that was transplanted into Kate. Both of these are major twists, but, at least in my opinion, anyone who was paying attention could kind of see them coming. 

     Anyhow, it is the final motivation Kate needs to really make a change in her life. She uses the habitants of the homeless shelter at which Tom worked to help her organize a solo performing Last Christmas, the iconic George Michael song. She invites all of her friends, family, and her boss and her boss’s boyfriend to the performance. After her solo, the band of performers that she recruited join her, creating a quintessential Christmas performance. Kate and her family celebrate Christmas later. 

     The final scene of the movie is a scene of next summertime Kate, who looks happier and healthier and writes in her journal. She sits in the bench with Tom’s name on it in the park to which he introduced her. Kate looks above her, as Tom always suggested to do. The credits roll. 

     That was a very long summary for a pretty simple movie. Overall, I do not think that this movie was, in any way, good. Even with the “surprise twist,” the plot of the movie seemed incredibly contrived to me, and there was never really a point when I was really engrossed in the story like I should have been. The movie itself seemed to have a sort of smug satisfaction at the twist’s reveal, something I found to be incredibly condescending as a viewer who guessed the twist well before it was revealed. That sense of smugness was just the peak of a movie that, as a whole, seemed to take itself too seriously in the first place. 

     To conclude, although its efforts to be different from other rom-coms and Christmas movies are admirable, they ultimately fall short of creating a movie anything better than mediocre. The movie succeeds at generating a feelgood, holiday feeling, which I guess is the purpose. Even so, however, the movie did not live up to expectations for me, which is why I feel the two-star rating is due.