In 2003, director Richard Curtis released a film that would help define over a decade of popular culture. From being reenacted in skits on Saturday Night Live to inspiring an NYU course within the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies Department, Love Actually still pulls at viewers’ heartstrings some sixteen years later.
As many are familiar with, the film tells the numerous and diverse stories of different lovers across England. Although each individual is very different from the next, as Keira Knightley plays a young newly-wed whereas Hugh Grant plays a bachelor prime minister, somehow, each of their stories intertwine. Unlike the more traditional romance films, having two main characters who find their way to one another, this film shows love in a number of capacities. Being set in the midst of the holiday season, Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson’s characters embrace a loving friendship in difficult times; Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon’s characters show the excitement and fearful nature of new love, and so on. The film truly speaks to a large audience due to its varied storylines, making it not only enjoyable, but relatable to many as well.
The film’s success should come as no surprise to its viewers, as Curtis, who doubled as the film’s writer, also wrote the popular, well-received British film, Notting Hill. Both films take unique approaches to telling classic love stories that have kept new generations of audiences watching them for years on end. Not only does Love Actually, in addition to Notting Hill, do this well, but they have shown the timelessness of telling heartfelt love stories through their plots and their ongoing popularity alike. Happy 16th Birthday, Love Actually!