I recently watched the movie “Last Christmas” The movie stars Emilia Clarke (as Kate) who’s a down and out singer who has a dead end job in a shop that sells Christmas ornaments and decorations. Her fortunes change when she meets Tom (Henry Golding). I really enjoyed some of the theological themes of this movie. The movie is rated PG-13, so probably not a family movie, but I appreciated the story.
I’ll start by talking about the reception of Last Christmas. Ratings for the movie are mixed. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has poor reviews among critics (47%), but favorable reviews among the general public (81%). On Letterboxd, the site has an average rating of 2.9 out of 5 stars. I actually really enjoyed this film. It’s not an all time classic, but it was fun. I laughed, I cried. I liked the cast.
This will absolutely spoil the movie, so reader beware. The movie begins and Kate’s character is down on her luck. She’s an aspiring singer and her career isn’t going where she wants it to go. She doesn’t have a stable living situation. A mistake that she makes at work nearly costs her her job. She has a strained relationship with her family. But then she meets Tom, who’s this mystery man.
Tom is joyful. He’s a gentlemen. In one scene, he refuses to take advantage of her even though she’s drunk and willing. He’s thoughtful. They go on a date where he sneaks them into an ice skating rink after hours. He’s giving. Kate discovers that he volunteers at a homeless shelter. Kate initially mocks this, but later she starts volunteering at the shelter, not because she wants to volunteer but because she wants to see Tom (but the volunteers are unfamiliar with him). He has a positive outlook on life.
In the middle of the movie, Kate reveals to Tom that she had received a heart transplant a year before and the trauma of that experience.
After that conversation, her life starts to turn around. She’s more joyful. She starts doing more things to help others. She does a better job at work and fixes up her boss with a man. She works to restore a broken relationship with her sister. She even uses her singing talent outside of the homeless shelter to raise money.
Tom tells Kate that he has something to tell her and she fears he’s afraid to commit and walks away, but when she decides to make amends, she heads back to his apartment to find Tom not there. A real estate agent tells Kate that the apartment has been vacant.
Kate learns that Tom is dead and that she had received his heart.
And that’s where the theology of the movie is found. Tom needed to die for Kate to really live. And it was because she received his heart that her life changed. Eventually she shelves the dream of making it in music. The movie ends with a Christmas concert she’s put together at the shelter. She’s happy. She has purpose through serving others.
And it’s because she has a new heart. The Bible teaches that when a person comes to faith in Christ, they also receive a heart transplant.
Because of our sin, we cannot make our hearts pure. But the good news is that through regeneration, God does a heart transplant in us. He gives us a new heart and a new Spirit. So the Spirit brings renewal through cleansing, it is through the Spirit that we are given a new heart.
While I don’t think the producers of Last Christmas meant to make it a Christian film, the movie has a theme which resonates with Christian themes. We also see the gospel theme that Kate has life because another man died for her. In the movie, as Kate grows, it is because of Tom that her life and way of living are transformed.
There are also some similar plot elements to A Christmas Carol. Kate’s life goes from being more inwardly focused to more giving after an encounter with a ghost…
I liked the film.
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