As the holiday season rolls in, it’s inevitably time to turn on our screens and tune in to our favourite Christmas movies. One classic and absolute favourite of mine is Love Actually, for its interlocking storylines, hopeful love stories, and amazing cast.
As much as I love the movie, it seems that as I’ve grown, the film also demonstrates some problematic themes and tropes that are too often portrayed in the media. Though I’m far from being the first one to critique the film, I am just coming to grasp the fact that my oh-so-perfect Christmas movie is far from superbity.
Everything it got right:
Though some critics have excoriated the performances of the star-studded cast, I actually believe almost every actor played their role splendidly. My favourites being: Liam Neeson as Daniel; Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Sam; Emma Thompson as Karen; and Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister.
Although I’m a devotee to most of these actors, I think regardless, they each performed their role with passion and ease. I am not a crier, but when Karen begins to cry after listening to her Joanie Mitchell CD (yes, all you fans know exactly which scene I’m talking about), I tear up every time. Further, the relationship between Daniel and Sam brings a smile to my face every time the duo comes together to try and get Sam’s love life in order. Finally, my absolute favourite scene in the movie is when the Prime Minister dances around 10 Downing Street, exemplifying the carefreeness of the movie and leaving viewers in the mood to dance along.
Although some may see this as a fault, the film beautifully captures the romanticism of Christmas. With gift-buying and giving, catching last-minute flights, and Christmas concerts, the movie captures the holiday season romance with every storyline. The many Christmas parties and/or gatherings that take place definitely put me in the mood to start celebrating.
Though some of the storylines stray from the Christmas theme at times, overall the movie does a great job of ensuring to its audience that this is a Christmas movie. Clearly, the film believes Christmas time is meant to be spent with loved ones, and that’s exactly what these characters are trying to find: someone to love at Christmas.
Everything it got wrong:
While the acting is indeed exceptional and the plotlines may bring a smile to our faces, it seems the goodness of the film stops there. The most disappointing thing to realize about this film is that absolutely every one of the connections that take place is based on initial attraction alone. Each story, except perhaps with the exception of rocker Billy Mack (Bill Nighy), begins with them laying eyes on one another and follows their journey of lust.
Perhaps the film just didn’t have enough time to demonstrate the true connections each person was making and show the personalities of each character a little more, however, I think in a much more realistic sense, the media only focuses on the “love at first sight” moment.
Although some of the storylines leave us filled with delight knowing they got their special love, others fell flat on delivery. Quite a few of the storylines leave the audience grasping for answers as to what happens between the potential lovers. Who does Harry (Alan Rickman) end up with? Does Juliet (Keira Knightley) stay devoted to her new husband? Does Sarah (Laura Linney) end up alone? These are the questions we are indefinitely left with.
Though producers and writers have made tweets and comments with some answers to these queries, they shouldn’t have to. The movie should be able to stand alone in all its Christmas-romance glory, and yet it’s impossible for it to accomplish this with these issues.
Overall, I will persist and probably always will continue to watch Love Actually at Christmas time. Though it has its faults, it’s also a light, cheery movie that helps me get in the Christmas mood. And, compared to some of the Hallmark movies I guiltily enjoy, this movie is truly Oscar-worthy.