It’s that time of year again, when the films on TV change from reruns of Bridget Jones to holiday classics… including Bridget Jones. Of course, the holiday classic that gets us Brits the most excited is the star-studded Love, Actually.
Now, before I begin going in on one of this country’s most loved Christmas film, I just want to say that I myself don’t go a year without partaking in a family viewing of Love, Actually, and I always enjoy it – however, I do think it was poorly named. The film is full of relationships, old and new, but one thing that is consistently lacking is love! If you go systematically through the relationships, they nearly all come down to lust.
Let’s start with my favourite storyline: Jamie (Colin Firth) and his housekeeper Aurelia (Lucia Moniz). I love Firth and always thought this was one of the cutest parts of the film, but when you actually think about it they don’t know each other! They don’t speak the same language, they only hang out while she is working and Jamie, having been cheated on by his wife, is clearly on the rebound. I’m sorry, but they both just really fancy each other. Nothing deeper. It’s cute that they learn each other’s languages but that doesn’t make it love (but at least they can now actually have a conversation).
Next, let’s take a look at the deeply pathetic Mark (Andrew Lincoln) who for some reason is convinced he’s in love with his best friend’s wife, despite never really speaking to her. He just has a massive hard-on for her, not that I’m blaming him – it is Keira Knightley. And because of this, he somehow thinks it’s acceptable to go after her ‘because its Christmas’ even though she is newly married – TO HIS BEST FRIEND!
Back to some cute characters, who we thought were charming but are still just motivated by lust when you really look at it: The Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon). In defence of these two they do actually talk to each other, but only really in the way that a nice boss talks to one of his employees. She clearly just fancies him and he fancies her – not that deep. I would make a point about the relationship being a weird abuse of power, but in the PM’s defence, he doesn’t act on anything until after she leaves her position (take note, Bill Clinton).
Perhaps the most obviously lust motivated relationship is the one between Harry (Alan Rickman) and his secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch) – the most universally hated characters in the film. She purposefully seduces him knowing full well he’s married and he goes along with it, pure and simple. One character you have to admire for being so openly motivated by sex is the both creepy and adorable Colin (Kris Marshall), who, from the get-go, is just after a hottie. And boy, does he get one or two or three or four. Good for you, Colin. At least you were upfront about it, not masquerading your lust as love.
Now that I’m done addressing the lust, it’s actually time to look at the love, because admittedly there is some, but it isn’t the romantic kind. There is the beautiful and sincere love between the bereaved Daniel (Liam Neeson) and his adorable stepson Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), who is going through some ‘love’ (it’s a crush – let’s be real) issues of his own. Their relationship brings heart and warmth to the film and when I think of the love in Love, Actually, I think of their Titanic scene. The other example of real love is between the scene-stealing Billy Mac (Bill Nighy) and his manager Joe (Gregor Fisher). There’s a real platonic love between them, even if it takes Mac a while to show it.
And there you have it, the examples of love in Love, Actually; more bro love than anything else. At a push, I’d say another example of love would be Rowan Atkinson’s shop worker and his love of ornate wrapping, but for a film that advertises an abundance of romance, I’m not sure it delivers.