Scrooge Picks: Love Actually
Archie Lockyer confesses his hatred of the Christmas classic, Love Actually
If there is one Christmas “classic” that really grinds my gears, it is without doubt Richard Curtis’ Love Actually. Unlike Curtis’ other romcoms such as Notting Hill which contained a rather realistic romance in an unrealistic situation, Love Actually is a farce with a lack of chemistry and a predictable bore of a film.
If we look into some of the interlinked vignettes (needlessly interlinked, some might say), we can get a taste of the horror that lies within Love Actually. The very first line of the film proclaims that “Love is everywhere”, that if we look into the everyday people’s lives (surprisingly all the everyday people look like superstars, no Ken Loach style here) then we can find that bit of romance or familial love that we all need. However, all the examples and stories that Curtis uses are horrible examples of love, often with some creepy twist to them.
Throughout Love Actually many of the male characters are in my opinion either incredibly shallow, cruel or just plain creepy
Take for instance, Bill Nighy’s character Billy Mack, the Bowie Rockstar shilling out a Christmas song for the profits, and despite its shoddiness, it makes Christmas No 1. This could easily be utterly hilarious, pointing a finger at the artificiality that the media surrounding Christmas always has, lacking the heart that it desperately needs. I am certain that this joke would work anywhere else except in Love Actually, where a segment about making something overtly terrible and artificial becomes something of an ironic joke.
This lack of irony or genuineness is not just limited to this section of the film but is a theme throughout. For instance, the “romance” between the Prime Minister (even an ever-charming Hugh Grant couldn’t save this dud) and Martine McCutcheon, never feels earned or even believable. The idea itself is not a bad one: The Prime Minister having to deal with Geopolitics as well as love. Yet, due to the very concept of Love Actually being intercut stories, the section never gets enough time to grow or develop for me to actually care; instead, we get a predictable A to B romance with no surprises.
The segments I have described so far are the ones that I view as bad but not essentially worrying. But throughout Love Actually many of the male characters are in my opinion either incredibly shallow, cruel or just plain creepy. Take for instance, the Keira Knightley and Andrew Lincoln storyline with the iconic “cards” scene where Lincoln proclaims his love for Knightley. This is the scene everyone remembers. Yet, strangely no one seems to remember the context of which Lincoln to his own admission performs “stalker-level” behaviour, for instance where he makes a homemade wedding video which consists solely of Knightley. That’s not a Christmas romcom, that’s the start of a slasher flick!
Other toxic characters include Alan Rickman’s adulterous Harry who frankly is never really punished for his actions, and the massive misogynist Colin (who is rewarded for his constant perverted views in America).
This being said, I do like the Hugh Grant dancing scene. He’s the shining star atop an otherwise decaying tree.