Kate, due to a health problem the previous year, has become bitter and selfish after a strained relationship from her family and having an unsuccessful singing career. Working as an elf in a Christmas shop, she meets Tom who teaches her to become more caring and giving.
The film is of course inspired by the song of the same name by the late great George Michael and features various versions of the song. The film does a nice job making the song fit both with the story and the scenes they feature in, so it never feels forced.
Emma Thompson co-wrote this film with Bryony Kimmings and they manage to write some really funny and clever scenes. It’s not flawless however; the twist ending (without spoilers) is quite predictable and a bit sloppy. They also try to be political by adding in a subplot about Brexit which feels forced. Where Thompson and Kimmings’ writing succeeds is the portrayal of the homeless people and the theme of caring and giving.
While this by no means Paul Feig’s best film, he compliments the screenplay by bringing out the comedy with big laughs. But also conveying the caring and giving theme, that will make audiences feel inspired.
If you’ve read my review of A Simple Favour the biggest compliment I said about Paul Feig as a director is how he handles his female protagonists. They are always well-rounded characters who are easy to like, with flawed personalities and character arcs.
Our heroine Kate fits perfectly with that description and is by far the best part about this film. Kate at the start is very selfish but also understandably depressed after her health problem. Her development throughout the film is very well written, greatly paced, is very heartfelt and conveys the message through her character perfectly.
Since Feig has now proved himself to handle female protagonists with six films in a row, I really want to see him direct a female superhero film. Take note Marvel when you look for your director for Captain Marvel 2. Or DC should hire him for a Batgirl or Catwoman film.
Emilia Clarke’s performance as Kate is excellent, she makes Kate likeable even when she makes terrible decisions and when characters are understandably upset with her, especially due to her on point comedic timings.
She’s also incredibly sympathetic as she successfully conveys the depression Kate’s character is going through. Clarke was able to relate to the character due to suffering brain aneurysms in real life, which adds some authenticity. She also runs a charity, SameYou, which also helps with conveying Kate’s development.
Henry Golding is well cast as Tom and has great chemistry with Clarke. Despite being a bit undeveloped he is still enjoyable to watch. Michelle Yeoh who plays Kate’s boss is surprisingly hilarious. Her antics include calling herself “Santa” and selling very unusual Christmas decorations. Emma Thompson is also pretty funny as Kate’s over caring and arrogant mother, even with a questionable Croatian accent that I’m sure will offend some people.
Another thing to love about this film is the beautiful cinematography; it’s a ger film to look at. Set in London, it’s shot in some of the lesser-known locations and it’s such a beautiful portrayal of the city, especially at Christmas with all the decorations and amazing lighting.
While I don’t see this becoming a Christmas classic, it’s still a feel-good watch around the holiday. If you like Christmas-set romantic comedies like Love, Actually or The Holiday you’ll certainly enjoy this.
Written by Jack Parish