If you plan your holiday movie viewing schedule early, here’s one you might want to add to your list: “Last Christmas.” The movie stars “Game of Thrones” actress Emilia Clarke, who, like in real life, must learn to navigate the world after a sudden life-threatening illness.
“Last Christmas” is a romantic comedy that stars Clarke as Kate, who at first glance appears a bit haphazard and sloppy. Things are falling apart around her, including her job at a London Christmas store. At exactly the right moment she meets Tom (Henry Golding), a man who arrives just in time to show her the true meaning of the holiday spirit — and reconnect with her identity.
We also learn in the trailer Kate survived a sudden illness and those around her don’t know how to react. It seems her sudden illness is really the cause of the trouble she keeps finding herself in. If you’ve experienced changes in your relationships or struggled to navigate life after a health diagnosis, you may relate to Kate’s story in “Last Christmas.”
“I was really sick and I nearly died. I don’t tell people because they get weird,” Kate says in the trailer. “I’m just scared all the time. They just expect me to be normal and get on with life.”
The plotline also closely resembles what Clarke experienced in real life. Clarke revealed in March she survived two brain aneurysms. In 2011, after she finished filming the first season of “Game of Thrones,” she experienced a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening kind of stroke caused by bleeding in the space around the brain.
After surgery to seal off the first aneurysm, doctors discovered a smaller one on the other side of her brain. Initially, it was too small to warrant surgery, but during a brain scan two years later, the aneurysm doubled in size, requiring a second major surgery. The procedure failed the first time, and Clarke needed another surgery to stop the bleeding in her brain.
“At certain points, I lost all hope,” Clarke wrote in the New Yorker of the experience, adding:
I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. There was terrible anxiety, panic attacks. I was raised never to say, ‘It’s not fair’; I was taught to remember that there is always someone who is worse off than you. But, going through this experience for the second time, all hope receded. I felt like a shell of myself. So much so that I now have a hard time remembering those dark days in much detail. My mind has blocked them out. But I do remember being convinced that I wasn’t going to live.
“Last Christmas” was co-written by actress Emma Thompson, who also plays Clarke’s mother in the film. It was directed by Paul Feig. Look for “Last Christmas” in theaters starting Nov. 8.
Watch the “Last Christmas” trailer here: