Thursday, December 30, 2010

Classic--Love Actually

or: Lots of people in love.

One word to sum it up: Loaded.

As Love Actually was a guilty pleasure movie I stuck in the player just before Christmas because everyone kept going on about the importance of this movie at Christmas, I can't really review it without reiterating what many people have said before. Here's my verdict on it: A really sweet and charming story which has a few too many stories but seems to all fall into place in the end. 8/10.
Anyway, because I like lists, I'm going to go through the stories of this movie and say a little bit about each of them. Something different, yes?

David (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon)

Story: The recently elected British Prime Minister David, is young, handsome, and single. Natalie is a new junior member of the household staff at 10 Downing Street and regularly serves his tea and biscuits. Something seems to click between them. David walks in to find the U.S. President (Billy Bob Thornton) attempting to seduce Natalie. David has Natalie moved, but later comes across a Christmas card 'With Love, Your Natalie.' He eventually finds Natalie at her family's home, then drives everyone to the local school for the nativity play, the same one in which his niece and nephew are appearing, and the two watch the show from backstage, their budding relationship exposed when a curtain is raised during the big finale.
Verdict: Firstly, it was a huge problem for me that I just couldn't imagine Hugh Grant as the British Prime Minister. I mean, that man, who I had my first ever crush on at the age of 9, as Prime Minister?! That aside, I thought this story was particularly sweet. David is so awkward about his love for Natalie, but once he sees someone else tampering with her he just can't stand it. That usually happens in real life. The ending to their story is particularly awkward, but especially sweet. If I didn't know any better, I would say that this story is the one holding the rest of the stories together

Daniel (Liam Neeson); Sam (Thomas Sangster) and Joanna (Olivia Olson

Story: Daniel and his stepson Sam fend for themselves, mourning the loss of their wife and mother, where Sam has fallen for American visitor Joanna. Daniel consoles Sam, who is heartbroken over recent news of Joanna's return to the United States, and convinces him to go catch Joanna at the airport.
Verdict: I love Thomas Sangster so much at the moment. It didn't help that he was so cute in this movie. And, to be perfectly honest, I want Liam Neeson to be my dad. I mean, my dad wouldn't suggest watching Titanic or running through an airport after 'the one'. It's nice to see Neeson being all mellow after all the ass-kicking we've seen him do over the years. I like mellow Neeson. I also like cute Sangster (in a non-paedophile way...he is 20 years old now though). I do not like Joanna because a) she can sing really well and b) she got cute Sangster. If I was one of those 'hip kids' who have the Tumblr accounts, I would probably be saying 'FML' or 'MLIA' right now.

Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) and Joe (Gregor Fisher)

Story: With the help of his longtime manager Joe (Gregor Fisher), aging rock and roll legend Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) records a Christmas variation of The Troggs' classic hit 'Love Is All Around'. Nonetheless he promotes the release in the hope it will become the Christmas number one single. The song does go to number one; after briefly celebrating his victory at a party hosted by Sir Elton John, Billy suggests that he and Joe celebrate Christmas by getting drunk and watching porn.
Verdict: Thanks to this movie, I had 'Christmas is All Around' in my head all of Christmas day (and Boxing day, I believe). Which was weird, because I only saw it on the music channel once all day. But, I guess, it is pretty catchy. While Billy Mack doesn't have a 'love story' as such (unless it is with his manager), he certainly is one of the most memorable figures in this movie, probably because he is easily the funniest. And he is the best line of the whole movie: "Hiya kids. Here is an important message from your Uncle Bill. Don't buy drugs. Become a pop star, and they give you them for free!" Need I say more?

Juliet (Keira Knightley), Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Mark (Andrew Lincoln)

Story: Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are wed in a lovely ceremony orchestrated and videotaped by Mark (Andrew Lincoln), Peter's best friend and best man. The video he recorded reveals that he secretly has feelings for her.
Verdict: I really felt as if this story never amounted to anything and was quite awkward, in all the wrong ways. Just the chemistry between the three of them didn't feel right. Probably one of the biggest space wasters in the film.

Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurélia (Lucia Moniz)

Story: Writer Jamie first appears preparing to attend Juliet and Peter's wedding. His girlfriend misses the ceremony to sleep with his brother. Jamie retires to his French cottage where he meets Portuguese housekeeper Aurélia, who speaks only her native tongue Portuguese. There is an instant attraction between the two. When Jamie returns to England he realises he is in love with Aurelia. He learns her native language and goes back to propose to her. When he does propose to her, she says yes, and it is revealed that she has been learning English to communicate with Jamie.
Verdict: This story is so shamelessly romantic it is actually quite sweet. I love how the pair of them couldn't speak each others language, but seemed to understand what the other person was saying. Mind you, that was the best part of their relationship: how they communicated in such an odd way. While I wouldn't think that a proposal would have come so soon for the couple, I thought it was sweet how they both learnt each others a pretty hilarious extent.

Harry (Alan Rickman), Karen (Emma Thompson) and Mia (Heike Makatsch)

Story: Harry is the managing director of a design agency; Mia is his new secretary. For Christmas he buys her an expensive necklace from jewellery salesman Rufus (Rowan Atkinson), who elaborately wraps while Harry becomes increasingly nervous with the fear of detection. Meanwhile, Harry's wife Karen is busy dealing with their children, Daisy and Bernard, who are appearing in the school Nativity, to her brother David, who just became Prime Minister, and her friend Daniel, who has just lost his wife. Karen discovers the necklace in Harry's coat pocket and assumes it is a gift for her; Karen later confronts Harry over the necklace, who admits to foolishness.
Verdict: Basically, this story pissed me off a little. Firstly, because Karen was so nice and was probably the link that held everyone together. Who would cheat on her? That's where we come to my second point...I hate Harry for doing what he did. But then again, did he and Mia actually have an affair? Or was Mia just playing with him? Third point of pissing off-ness: what actually happened here? All we know is that Karen found a necklace, which she assumed was for her, but was actually for a young secretary at her husbands business. What about the end? It didn't seem like Harry and Karen were still in love. Which takes me back to my first point: who couldn't love her?

Sarah (Laura Linney), Karl (Rodrigo Santoro) and Michael (Michael Fitzgerald)

Yes...I realize that is Harry and not Karl...but it was impossible to find a photo of him!
Story: Sarah first appears at Juliet and Peter's wedding, sitting next to her friend Jamie. We learn she works at Harry's graphic design company, where she has been in love for years with its creative director, Karl. A tryst between Karl and herself is interrupted by Sarah's mentally ill brother, Michael, and this effectively ends their relationship. On Christmas Eve, she visits her brother at the institution where he lives, wrapping a scarf around him as he hugs her. Verdict: I liked the start of this story, and the fact that Sarah had a mentally ill brother who needed her more than anyone. What I didn't like was the fact that Karl just left her because of that fact. Talk about not understanding!

Colin (Kris Marshall) and various others.

Story: After several blunders attempting to woo various English women, including Mia and Nancy (the caterer at Juliet and Peter's wedding), Colin Frissell informs his friend Tony (Abdul Salis) he plans to go to the US and find love there. He meets Stacey (Ivana Milicevic), Jeannie (January Jones), and Carol-Anne (Elisha Cuthbert), three stunningly attractive women who fall for his Basildon accent and invite him to stay at their home. Colin accepts.
Verdict: British douchebag goes to America to pick up chicks because they will 'like his accent'. Maybe the English women were onto something...he was a douche. Well, at least he got those two girls at the end of the movie.

John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page)

Story: John and Judy, meet as stand-ins for the sex scenes in a movie. John tells Judy that "it is nice to have someone [he] can just chat to." The two carefully and cautiously pursue a relationship, and see the play at the local school together with John's brother.

Verdict: This is probably the most random story out of the lot of them. I don't know how often that happens: meeting your future partner as a stand in for sex scenes in a movie. But anyway, it's kinda quirky, and it's definitely something Hollywood should expand on in a future movie. And, of course, when you see them together in the epilogue, you can't help but let out an 'awwwwwwww'.

Love Actually is perhaps one of the most brilliant romantic comedies. Even if it does have a few too many stories. But that's cool, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do this wee blog post.


  1. While we are and almost always has been in the rom com crisis, I agree this one is one of the best. Oh gosh, I love that line by Bill Nighy LOL

  2. We talked about this film during the last episode of The Matineecast, and the comments that came after really amazed me with how many dudes like this very chicky flick!

    For me, Jamie and Aurelia's story is the one that's most beautiful - and interesting since it's really the only one that doesn't play into the Christmas angle at all. Nothing is more charming than his broken Portugese grammar when he makes his speech at the end.

    As for Harry and Karen, that's a story that Lady Hatter and I have talked about a few times over the years. Karen's a smart cookie, she can see in the way that Mia looks at Harry that she wants him badly. So how long until he caves and does something stupid and hurtful?

    Into this situation, she fires a warning shot: "You know she's pretty. Be careful there." She's not mad at him (yet) because he hasn't exactly done anything wrong, but she can see the potential for hurt. So this is why finding that necklace is so painful for her:

    She waved a warning flag in front of Harry and he didn't pay it any attention. He didn't have a lunchtime tryst with Mia, he made a clearly romantic gesture. To a woman like Karen, that's worse.

    It's a part of the story I've always found fascinating, because even though the person he loves tells him to watch his step, he falls on his face anyway.

  3. @Lesya--Bill Nighy is hilarious in this film! And this is one of the best out there.

    @Hatter--The Harry and Karen storyline is very interesting, and I think your analysis of it was pretty dead on. Thanks!

  4. I like your analysis, except for one thing. There's a scene toward the end of the film that implies that Karl is still interested but it's Sarah who has rejected the idea of a relationship. It's one of the only things that bothers me about that movie - Laura Linney is effectively resigning herself to a life of solitude because she believes that she must always care for her brother. Karl is the one who I feel bad for.


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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