Yay, another Festive Film taken off the list! This one, staring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, as well as Michelle Yeoh and Emma Thompson, was a Universal film released in 2019, a romantic comedy featuring and inspired by the music of George Michael. What more else could you want from a film?
Is the plot amazing and brilliantly original? No! Does it matter? Also no! And also why is the Critical Response section of Wikipedia full of reactions from men? Seriously, from the quotes there, um, guys, you’re not the target audience. And that’s fine. I don’t think The Thing is as brilliantly amazing as most cis men claim, but that’s okay! Can we please stop having people who don’t enjoy certain genres reviewing these genres, please? Seriously? It’s just ridiculous.
Anyway, I didn’t come here to dwell on critics not understanding how just because something is predictable, doesn’t make it not good. Yes, this isn’t the most original of stories, but it’s told in a way where that really doesn’t matter. Kate is working as an elf in a year-round Christmas shop. Her job and life both seem dead-end, with Kate sofa surfing among friends, or going home with random men to ensure she has somewhere to stay for the night. She’s a singer, and auditioning, but struggling to land any roles as she resists going back to her parents’ home. Looking out the shop window, she spots Tom, staring upwards.
The pair bounce off each other really well, and it’s refreshing to see the ‘dynamics’ of this type of film reversed, where Tom comes across as the more free-spirited, almost whimsical character, while Kate is disgruntled and jaded.
I really liked her family, too – having fled Yugoslavia, her parents struggle with living in the UK, and it reflects a real reality for many. Her mother suffers from depression, while her father, a former lawyer, is a minicab driver, unable to afford to retrain. The family dynamics are down to earth and realistic, and without it becoming the point of the film, there are elements in here surrounding Brexit and the general uncertainty at that time. (Important reminders that for the many, the reality they’re facing, especially in this country right now, is very grim)
And of course, there’s ‘Santa’, Kate’s Christmas-loving boss, who tries to encourage Kate to live life. A big part of the plot revolves around Kate’s previous illness, and again, it’s handled in a really good way, with Kate becoming more withdrawn and not feeling like herself since she was ill, and resenting the way her mother seemed to thrive when looking after her.
Overall I thought this was a really enjoyable film, with some wonderfully funny and heart-warming moments, and Kate is definitely the kind of character you can really root for throughout. I just wanted to see her happy! If you like this kind of thing, definitely make sure to check this one out.