- Universal Pictures
- The new holiday rom-com “Last Christmas” has a twist ending that many people guessed based on the very first trailer.
- Here you’ll find a full explanation of how the ending unfolds.
- The movie is still really enjoyable, even if you know spoilers about the story.
- Though it does leave us with some questions about the logistics of Kate and Tom’s relationship.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
“Last Christmas” is a standard holiday rom-com, or at least that’s what director Paul Feig wanted audiences to believe. But the movie actually ends with a bleak twist – one people saw coming from the moment the first trailer was released.
Now that “Last Christmas” is in theaters, let’s talk about that ending. If you want a non-spoiler peek at the movie, read Insider’s review here.
Warning: Spoilers for “Last Christmas” ahead.
- Universal Pictures
‘Last Christmas’ ends with the reveal that Kate’s love interest, Tom, is actually dead. He literally gave her his heart the year before in a transplant surgery.
Emilia Clarke stars in the movie as Kate, a woman in her mid-20s who underwent a traumatic hospital experience the year before “Last Christmas” takes place. At the movie’s start, Kate is spiraling. She doesn’t have a consistent place to live, is dangerously close to losing her job, and has been alienating friends and family.
Enter Tom (played by Henry Golding). He’s a charming and aggressively optimistic stranger who starts visiting Kate at work. He tells Kate that he’s a bike courier who volunteers at a nearby homeless shelter, and that he has stashed his cell phone in a cupboard, choosing to unplug from technology and instead live his life engaged with his surroundings.
Throughout the movie, Tom is often the one in control of when he and Kate see each other. He pops up, usually right when Kate is upset or in need of a pick-me-up. When she tries to find him at places like the homeless shelter, no one seems to know about the guy.
- Universal Pictures
Eventually, Kate tries to pin Tom down during one of their talks. She mentions that the way she feels about him seems like a good indicator that they’re in a relationship. Tom does not return the sentiment.
Tom tells her, as gently as possible, that she can’t depend on him. Kate is hurt and upset, and leaves.
After this, Kate seems to set about a sort of mea culpa tour. She makes overdue apologies to the people she’s hurt and pushed away. She throws herself into a project (a fundraising concert at the homeless shelter).
And eventually, she goes to what she thinks is Tom’s apartment in order to patch things up.
But a different man is inside, and Kate is confused. She had once spent the night in this apartment with Tom, though he refused to lay down with her in the bed and do anything beyond sing a George Michael song and kiss her goodnight.
The guy inside the apartment is a broker or real estate agent – he’s there to show the apartment to people interested in renting or buying it. Kate is overjoyed to find a cell phone in the kitchen cupboard. It must be Tom’s, right?
But then the realtor mentions that the previous owner of this apartment died.
His name was Tom.
The movie then cuts quickly between flashbacks to a hospital and Kate having a dreaded realization inside this apartment. Tom had been biking in the city last Christmas when a car struck him and killed him. He was brought to the hospital around the same time Kate was being wheeled inside. She needed an emergency heart transplant, and Tom was an organ donor.
She literally has his heart.
This twist ending was predicted by many people who saw the movie’s first trailer, and connected the dots to George Michael’s song
The movie was written by Emma Thompson, Bryony Kimmings, and Greg Wise, who took their inspiration from the discography of pop icon George Michael (but mainly the song lyrics for “Last Christmas”).
Between the literal interpretation of the lyrics, “last Christmas I gave you my heart,” and the trailer showing Kate lamenting about Tom “disappearing” all the time, it wasn’t that hard to deduce.
But director Paul Feig was surprised to see such rampant speculation.
- Universal Pictures
“I was very shocked by it,” Feig told Business Insider’s Jason Guerassio. “I didn’t expect putting a trailer out for a rom-com would result in this ‘Matrix’-like speculation.”
He also tried to put an end to the theorizing.
“Anything anybody thinks they know about this movie is not correct,” Feig told RadioTimes in September. “It’s just a lovely Christmas movie!”
Emilia Clarke told IndieWire it was “bloody annoying” that people seemed to be spoiling the movie online. She says Thompson wrote several iterations of the script, working to try and make sure people would be surprised.
“It was only ready when their friends didn’t see the twist coming and couldn’t guess until it happens, so that’s where it comes from,” Clarke said. “It’s just frustrating.”
But that plan clearly didn’t work. The twist is fairly easy to see coming, especially after so much online theory-swapping.
Knowing the twist doesn’t ruin the movie – it’s still a sweet and fun Christmas rom-com
- Universal Pictures
The movie isn’t really a love story. It’s the story of Kate’s struggle recovering from heart surgery and figuring out how to feel OK in the world again. The ghost (angel?) of Tom appeared to her and helps her get back on a track towards happiness and away from the clear spiral she was in.
Like many rom-coms, and especially the holiday subgenre, “Last Christmas” is a bit hammy and a relatively shallow movie. But it’s still surprisingly emotional, and carries a heartwarming message.
The twist reveal with Tom might have been better executed if the movie went on to reveal that he was appearing to Kate thanks to special Christmas magic or something. “Last Christmas” is close to the narrative of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but without the clear explanation that an angel has been sent to help a person in need.
Instead, Kate wanders teary-eyed through the city as she thinks back to all the times she and Tom were together. Now we see the scenes as they really happened, where Kate was alone, and talking to herself.
Kate walks to a park where she and “Tom” had sat on a bench and kissed and talked. We’re see that the bench has a plaque on it dedicated to Tom.
“Take care of my heart,” the Ghost-Tom tells Kate. “It was always going to be yours, one way or another.”
Then the movie jumps forward two weeks to Kate’s Christmas concert fundraiser. She is in cheery spirits, and speaks to the crowd about the importance of kindness. Kate says that helping each other is what makes people happy.
Then they sing George Michael’s “Last Christmas,” and we see Kate later spending time with her family for a holiday dinner.
The final scene of the movie is set later that spring. Kate, looking generally happier and at peace, sits on Tom’s bench and writes in a journal. She looks up at the blue sky and smiles.
Even if you saw the twist coming a mile away, the overall experience of seeing Kate find her way back to a happier life is rewarding and heartfelt (all the more because Clarke herself recently revealed her personal experience of life-threatening surgery thanks to two brain aneurysms).
The movie never answers a few logistical questions about Kate’s experiences with ‘Tom’
In general, the viewing experience of “Last Christmas” is best left at the surface level. There are simply too many logistical questions that appear when you start trying to really figure out how a ghost visited Tom.
But there are some mysteries we couldn’t help pondering as the credits rolled.
What was that random phone doing inside the cupboard of Tom’s old apartment? The realtor was confused by its presence, and it’s awfully coincidental that Tom’s excuse for never giving Kate a way of contacting him was actually there in real life.
The movie also never explains how Kate got inside the apartment on the first go-around. Ghost-Tom brought here there late one night, but how did Kate get past the locked front door of the apartment building? When Kate returns, she has to be buzzed up by the realtor.
As for Kate’s love life, the movie implies that she may have found a real man to date. As she volunteers at the shelter, Kate befriends one of the staff workers there. He’s extremely cute, and sends some signals to Kate that he might enjoy a date with her sometime.
We don’t see him again after Kate’s realization about Ghost-Tom. It would have been nice to know for certain that Kate had opened herself up to a relationship with a real fella, but instead “Last Christmas” leaves this to the imagination.
“Last Christmas” is in theaters now. For more on the movie, read our review here.