For a movie that literally states that love is all around, the caustic Tinderesque narratives makes me believe that love doesn’t actually enter into it.
As the temperature rises, and the birdsong of Mariah again fills the air, we turn to December 1. Traditionally, today is the first day of the festive season, and also, the internet’s day to turn in their hot takes regarding Love Actually. So, in the name of tradition, I watched it. What followed, buried underneath the lazy romantic cliche, was one of the most subversive dude-centric chick-flicks ever put to celluloid.
Plotline 1: The Liam Neeson one
We open with Liam Neeson’s wife taken from him, speaking at her funeral bookended by the immortal genius of the Bay City Rollers. His kid looks on, foiled fringe beset by neg vibes.
Lol. Take me instead. Now, as we all know, those who have supped the aniseed liqueur of grief know that one should pump the brakes of impulse, especially to feel something from the departed in the arms of someone else who knew/looks like/sounds like that person.
What soon follows is Liam playing the romantic middleman for his underage son to pursue a girl with the same name as his barely cold wife/mother of his son.
Paging Doctor Freud.
I mean, let’s whitewash over the fact that post 9-11 airport security can be fooled by Rowan Atkinson in an overcoat, and the fact that a kid doesn’t spend a sizeable time in juvenile detention because of his stunt, let’s focus on the embrace. Father and son unite, over what? Each losing a Joanna through the hideousness of fate? What has Liam done? Instead of protecting his kid, he’s transplanted the emotional horror he can barely stand onto a primary school kid.
Plotline 2: The Hugh Grant one
Right, so Hugh Grant is the PM, cue the nasal staccato chuckle from the entirety of Britain, who, and let’s not lose sight of this point through his run on sentences or throwback dancing, fires a subordinate for being too attractive. But don’t call the lawyers just yet, as the PM holds an interest in her, despite the entirety of his cabinet (and Natalie’s own dad) derides her as ‘the fat girl’. So, it’s not discrimination or unlawful dismissal. She’s hot, but fat. Lol?
So, in the narrative, the PM is a good dude, pursuing the ‘chubby girl’ that no-one wants, literally through the streets, and you could say, perhaps in breach of his powers to locate this private citizen, for the express purpose to bang her. There’s an odd possession thing at play here, magnified by the scene where he torches the extremely important US/UK political relationship on the basis of his romantic pride over Natalie. Music swells, Rule Brittania and all that. Flash forward to a couple of scenes later, when he is very publically sprung kissing said woman behind a curtain at a school presentation he was certainly not scheduled to appear at. Surely he’s sacked in the morning. The Prozac of sudden love wears off quickly with the electorate.
I mean, fuck. If Malcolm Turnbull pulled anywhere near such a stunt, we’d push for the full Mussolini treatment. At least the major damage done in the Bill Clinton/Lewinsky fiasco was limited to the fibres of her dress, and look how that panned out.
Plotline #3: The Keira Knightley one
The woman who Jeremy Clarkson once defined as ‘an ironing board with a face, but she works’, is fresh off her nuptials with her long-time beau, Peter, best manned by her husband’s bestie, Mark. One, who unbeknownst to Keira, is keeping alive a mouth-breathing abomination of a crush which he was good enough to videotape, and let me make myself clear, videotaped enough to ruin his best pal’s wedding day, in some sort of bent singular pursuit of masturbation material. She wanted to secure the friendship, so her marriage works, but, then this sort of happened.
I mean, what the actual fuck. Cover it with Dido all you want, but detach the act from the narrative and you have stalking. Moreover, how long was he going to keep the video for? He made it clear upfront that he lost it. Lost their wedding video. What? Added to this clusterfuck is the very famous scene soon thereafter where he turns up with a boombox and Bob Dylan slides to…gain what exactly? To break up her marriage? He claims No hope or agenda, but you’re on her fucking doorstep with cue cards, mate.
So, she kisses him, and he speaks to himself out loud, mind that this would be ‘enough’. I dunno, mate. There’s a clear pattern of behaviour here, validated by her actions. What happens when he returns, and a line is crossed, and only one wants to step back behind the safety of it? I hope they don’t open Love Actually 2 with her body fished out of the Thames.
Also, honourable mentions: The man who traded in his wife for a Joni Mitchell album, The man whose wife cheats on him, so he bangs a woman he pays to clean his house, who doesn’t speak English, or the man who travels to Colorado, purely on the basis of sex, and succeeds admirably, by pretending to be religious and getting impressionable women drunk, before relocating them to the UK so his mate can have a go.
So, in closing, who is this movie for? The love-hopeful romantic, or the acidic lad-bro she settled for?