What’s not to Love, Actually? The Ultimate Christmas Romantic Comedy


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So what do you get when Hugh Grant is the Prime Minister of Britain and Bill Nighy is the self-proclaimed “granddad of Rock and Roll” attempting to make a comeback? Well, you get a romantic comedy, actually. Love Actually is a classic romantic comedy (even though it only came out four years ago) that attempts to answer whether love really is all around us.

Set in London, England the film follows six couples, a rock star, and a thrill-seeker during their busy Christmas season and chronicles their experiences with love.

Hugh Grant plays David, the Prime Minister of Britain, who finds himself instantly drawn to his assistant, Natalie (Martine McCutcheon). Notorious for his bachelordom, David is unable to succumb to his feelings and decides to fire Natalie. David eventually comes to his senses, and his reunion with Natalie steals the show—literally. In case you are worried that Mr. Grant will be dull because he plays a prime minister, rest assured that he brings his own twist (and dance moves) to Britain’s administration—think Tom Cruise in Risky Business but wearing trousers.

David’s sister, Karen (Emma Thompson), feels her workaholic husband, Harry (Alan Rickman), slipping away and suspects that he is having an affair with his excessively flirtatious secretary, Mia. Against better judgment, Harry entertains Mia’s advances, and Karen and Harry must decide whether their marriage has a future.

Daniel (Liam Neeson) is a widower who has recently lost his wife and is left to raise is his stepson, Sam (Thomas Sangster), on his own. The story takes an interesting turn when young Sam reveals that he is desperately in love with Joanna, a girl from school. In effort to win her love, Sam comes up with the plan of learning to play the drums so that he can star alongside her in the school Christmas concert. His plan does not succeed, and he thinks that he has loved in vain. In a last ditch effort, Sam must stop Joanna before she goes home to America and confess his love to her.

This is Richard Curtis’s debut as a director, and he’s working with the same team that brought us Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary. They are romantic comedy pros, so you will not be let down. Please don’t let the R-rating steer you away from this wonderful movie (unless the kids are around)! There is some nudity involving two characters who play body doubles in a film. However, their “acting” is hardly erotic and is more likely to make you laugh than blush.

This is a star-studded cast. Keira Knightley, Laura Linney, and Colin Firth also star in this film. I could be wrong, but I think this is the only film where you’ll get to see Billy Bob Thorton as the President of the United States, and if you’ve ever wondered what that would be like, perhaps that’s reason enough to see this film.

One thing that I personally appreciated about this film was it challenges stereotypes without being “preachy.” Hugh Grant’s love interest, Natalie, is a curvy woman. Actually, she’s NORMAL! There is talk about her being “fat” and having “plump thighs,” but David doesn’t care. He doesn’t even notice. If only such a world existed, right? Real women can get the good-looking guy, and in this film it does happen! There are also two interracial couples, which I thought illustrated that love is blind. It sounds cheesy, but you too will think cheesy thoughts after viewing this film!

A little disclaimer for the Scrooges out there who are thinking that this is just another Christmas movie where everyone falls in love and sings Christmas carols at the end. This is not that kind of film. There is no excessive kissing in the rain (or snow for that matter) and not everybody falls in love. It’s heartwarming, and it might give you “warm fuzzies” all over. It will make you feel good, and perhaps you’ll believe that maybe (just maybe) there is still a little love in the world (maybe).

With so many characters and storylines, it’s hard not to enjoy this film. A realist at heart, what I adore about this film is that it shows the many sides of love. There’s not a happily-ever-after ending for everyone, but that’s how love turns out sometimes. Also, from pre-teen puppy love, to newlyweds, and to marriage veterans, this film captures love in its earliest and latest stages. It’s witty, funny, and it’ll leave you with an annoying song stuck in your head. What more could we want from a film, right? Love Actually reminds us that if we take a moment to look, love is all around us, actually.

Carlyn Ferrari graduated from Pacific Union College with a B.A. in English two years ago. She is currently working on M.A. in Literature at SFSU. Two reasons why you should trust her endorsement of this film? She's quite funny and enjoys hummus.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/211