Last Christmas: The Heart Of The Story. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Last Christmas has had an interesting run in the cinema. Critics hated it but audiences took to it and it soon got to the top of the box office. Some may speculate that this is merely because it has the word ‘Christmas’ in the title, but the audience reaction seems to be very different to that of the critics. The story follows Kate (Emilia Clarke), a woman in her mid-twenties who lives live minute by minute, never thinking about the consequences of her actions until she meets Tom (Henry Golding) who changes her life through his kindness, willingness to help others and his open heart. Quite literally.
It turns out in the closing scenes of Last Christmas that T om’s involvement in improving Kate’s life is very literal, because she realises that the man that she’s been getting to know over the past few weeks was actually the heart donor that saved her life when she had a heart transplant. However, when the twist is revealed there it raises some questions because of the way the audience are told about it. Kate comes to Tom’s place and finds a man standing there, instantly mistaking her for somebody else, he proceeds to show her around Tom’s place, telling her that it is up for sale. Kate’s confused but goes along with it briefly, even finding Tom’s mobile phone in the cupboard where he said it was also kept. Then the estate agent tells Kate that the previous occupant had died and it hits her. The film then plays out snippets from exact same scenes they have previously seen, except Tom isn’t there.
The audience experiences a warm, happy moment when they realise the film hasn’t been a rom-com at all, but rather a story of a woman whose life is improved by a heart transplant learns to appreciate the gift that she has been given, paying it forward and turning her life around. However, some may feel a little confused (as I did) when the scenes are shown where Tom was never really there and they may start to question the state of Kate’s mind. She is shown throughout the film talking to other people about Tom, being seen in public with Tom and apparently even breaking into a home so that she can share some time with the man who gave her his heart. At first glance the film doesn’t need to be scrutinized, everybody is happy that Kate is finally content with her life and they leave the cinema happy. Although if that confusing reveal plays on your mind a little (as it did with mine) then I may have the solution. Kate was dead the whole time.
For those who haven’t stopped reading, hear me out. Imagine Kate is dead from the very beginning. She is introduced as a pretty unlikeable character, she has a mild drinking problem, she has casual (presumably unprotected) sex often and later when she goes to the doctor with her mother, the audience learns that her diet isn’t what it should be either. She also spends a lot of time couch hopping from one friend to another until she has no other options. This is not a person who has had a heart transplant, but that of a woman who is close to death because she doesn’t care enough about herself enough to live a healthy, happy life. So, when she does die due to complications during heart surgery, she meets Tom (her guardian angel) who guides her through the afterlife, helping her to make up for the things that she did wrong, so she can pass over to the other side.
However, I do have some more evidence to back up this admittedly wild theory. When Kate is alone with Tom in his place, she opens up, telling Tom everything about her. She tells him that she was ill for a long time and then suddenly she wasn’t. Kate doesn’t say that she got better, she says she was ill and then – she wasn’t. This doesn’t necessarily mean that she got better, but rather indicates that she may have not got better at all. This is further reinforced when Kate says that her mother fell into a depression after her heart transplant and that her father distanced himself from her because he couldn’t bear to be around her. This is not the behaviour of a couple whose daughter recovered a potentially life-threatening surgery and moved on, but it could be the result of a couple who have lost a daughter and have grown apart because of the grief that ripped them apart.
As the film goes on, Kate relives the last few weeks of her life and goes through all the mistakes she made and learns, with the help of Tom, how to make amends for the terrible things she said and did. She learns that she is able to care for other people, not just thinking about herself and when that time finally comes, she’s proven herself to be a good person at heart (pun intended), ready to move on to the other side. Kate’s revelation is not about the ghost of a man that she has been seeing all this time, but that she is finally in a good enough place to transition to a better place where she can finally be happy. Quite literally, she is ready for her heaven or whatever else you’d prefer to call it.
The last couple of scenes show Kate (or Katarina as she’s become comfortable with) at a party at the homeless shelter where she’s been working and every single person from the cast turns up to celebrate, from her family to the judges at the auditions she failed. So, why would all these people turn up to a party, even those Kate only met once? This is Kate’s leaving party. She’s surrounded by her friends, family and all the people whose lives she touched even briefly. Their presence is the culmination of her life’s worth. So, as the film ends, Kate is sat on a park bench and looking happy and healthier than ever. She is at peace and has finally moved on to a better place.
So, what do you think? Am I crazy? Probably. Do I have a point? Possibly. Am I overthinking a film that doesn’t require such in depth analysis? Most likely yes. However, for those who have seen Last Christmas already and may even see it again, keep this theory in mind for the next time you see it.
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