What are your cultural and emotional touchstones? What movies, television series, music spoke to you so intensely when you were younger that they’re still important years and even decades later? I have a love/hate relationship with the movie Love Actually. If I happen upon it while flipping channels, I always stop and watch the remainder. I have soft spot in my heart for Richard Curtis movies .
The movie opens at the Heathrow arrivals gate with all sorts of people greeting each other and Hugh Grant introduces the movie title and theme in voiceover. He mentions 9/11 and I remember too the feelings I had that day. I’m hooked. Love Actually is an ensemble movie with several plot lines that just tangentially intersect. This would be the movie where we may have noticed most of its actors for the first time, but many of them have become names we have grown to love, including Kiera Knightley, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Laura Linney, and Colin Firth.
Each of the several plots is a love story of some sort, whether it be comradely, parental, lustful, unrequited, first or any of a dozen other descriptors. People will tell you they love the movie or they hate it. I do both at the same time, but it is like an old friend to me and I enjoy its company when I see it again. Of the several stories, the ones I like the most are the ones with Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, and Colin Firth. If you’re not crushed when Emma Thompson’s character opens the gift and finds a Joni Mitchell CD instead of a necklace, you might want to check the pulse on your humanity. And the use of music in the film is done very well, particularly Mitchell’s Both Sides Now in that scene and the Beach Boys God Only Knows at the end. I also like the prime minister telling off the slick American president played by Billie Bob Thorton, David and Goliath stories always trumping my patriotism. The Colin Firth story arc with the young lady from Portugal is sweet and satisfying.
On the other hand, there are several aspects that just bug the crap out of me though, like the boy learning the drums in a matter of weeks. Or the orchestral band that blooms out of the congregation with a chorus and a lead singer to do a fully-arranged version of the Beatles All You Need Is Love. By the time everyone in the band stands up, there are apparently only two or three people there to actually witness the ceremony. It seems to me a bride would’ve wondered who the hell all those strangers were. Hugh Grant dancing through 10 Downing St. seemed silly. Or the odd-looking, young man that goes to America and lands three outrageously gorgeous women merely because he has a British accent (wait, I have a thing for British accents, maybe this one could happen). Or the lady played by Linney , who brings her psychiatrically challenged brother to a mental institution in England, where he has constant access to phones so he can ruin her every opportunity at romance. It stretches the bounds of credibility and all’s that needed to be done was to make the character English. It’s a fictional movie after all, not a documentary. The same guy who wrote it, directed it. Was he that stuck on Laura Linney?
Despite my qualms, I can never pass the movie up. I think it honestly attempts to portray the many aspects of love. It fails here, succeeds there, but it’s peopled with attractive folks and fine music and schmaltz. What else were you doing anyway? Go watch it again.
#onlinedating #middleaged #manspov #middleageddating #lastfirstkiss #loveactually #love