Christmas Countdown Day 11: Love Actually

Join Hugh Grant and the gang for a festive romantic rollercoaster. Covering nine-plots simultaneously and nearly every good actor in England, there is just so much to take in for this movie.

Christmas movies are often corny, and what’s more corny than a good old romantic comedy. Richard Curtis is the master of these movies. Whether you love him or hate him, you can’t ignore how much his movies made an impact (Notting Hill, Four Weddings & a Funeral, About Time), the most relevant being Love Actually (2003).

This film is very divisive, some marking it a classic and others an overrated train-wreck. I stand somewhere in the middle, some of the stories told here are amazing and others I can’t stand, the most emotional making me too sad to watch too often. My reviews of each subplot will be in ascending order of how much I like them!

Miserable Office Love
My least favourite of the plots, although it’s not for a lack of emotive story-telling. Sarah is a kind hard-working office worker with a huge crush on cutie Karl. She spends the first half of the movie looking longingly at him, but being mysteriously distracted at all times by something urgent. Turns out she has a brother who has quite severe additional needs, and this is what’s stopped her finding any personal happiness. She has to go to him when she finally had a chance to sleep with Karl, and this seems like the end of the romance. While it’s a story I’m sure many could relate to, its rather miserable and really puts a downer on the film.

The Wedding Party
This always felt like such a waste of a potentially really interesting plot-line. This one follows a trio, a newly wed couple and their best man. Keira Knightley and the best man don’t really get on at all, but when she borrows his wedding day footage she finds out that he’s far from the bastard he’s appeared to be. The reason he’s been such an arse towards her is because he’s been secretly in love with her for years. This should have been a secret gay romance, and he should have been in love with his friend, and that would have meant he could have had a non-creepy relationship with Knightley.

Porn People
A minor joke plot, only getting about five scenes across the film, but they are short and sweet. Two porn actors find they are actually able to have a quite nice conversation, and decide that they should take things more seriously, after several mock-sex acts and heartfelt chats.

Colin, God Of Sex
Colin’s only got about 10 minutes of screentime this whole movie but he makes them a treat. Annoyed with his lack of luck with the ladies in England he decides his only flaw is his location. He flies to America in search of sex, and upon arrival instantly finds four attractive women desperate to sleep with him. This is the end of Colin’s plot, but it was a fun time!

Billy Mack’s Return
Bill Nighy kills it as this ancient rocker, coming back to try and steal the Christmas number one. A very minor role, but his acting is what nails every scene, along with great supporters. Probably the least connected of any plot, but it’s always fun to hear him on the radio or TV in the background. Billy Mack deserved his big win, and it was lovely seeing him piss off so many people on his way up to the top.

The Affair
This Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson led affair plot line is amazingly acted, but is just a miserable ordeal to sit through some times. It’s absolutely heart-breaking to see Emma get so upset. Alan doesn’t actually sleep with his co-worker, that almost makes it worse, buying her an incredibly expensive gold necklace that his wife discovers. A slip into temptation ruins it all for him, and he ends up divorced and alone. Amazing stuff, but you won’t catch me wanting to watch it any time soon.

Huge Grant Pisses Off America
It’s no secret I like Hugh Grant a lot, but it’s his great roles in films like these that are the reasons, not his nothing fluff films like Two Weeks Notice. He’s great in this alternate universe Tony Blair, being all the good parts of a quirky English romantic lead, and Prime Minister. Watching him stand-up to the President is so enjoyable, and certainly would have lead to very different 2000s than the one we got. The thing that makes this plot even more hilarious is when you realise he basically threw away the entire UK-US relationship because the President flirted with the secretary he fancied, who he then transfers for being a distraction. Seems like a HR nightmare, but it’s a fun ride regardless.

Liam Neeson & Son are Mourny and Horny
Neeson may have soured my reputation of him in the last few years with his strange racist outbursts, I can’t pretend he isn’t amazing in this movie. As a new widower he’s in a sad enough position, but he’s also got to take care of his step-son Sam. Sharing their mourning for the amazing woman they just lost, this could be a miserable story. However, this is one of the more fun ones in the whole film. Neeson helps move past his gried by helping his step-son win over the heart of his school crush. A bittersweet and truely heartwarming affair, and it’s lovely to see things build up to an amazing Mariah Carey song.

Colin Firth and Aurélia
This is far from the best written, but it is my favourite. When Colin Firth’s partner cheats on him with his brother he takes off to his European holiday home to finish his novel. Here he quickly falls for his Portuguese assistant Aurélia, all while not speaking a word. There’s just something so romantic and sweet about learning a language just to speak to one single person. It’s the one of the few plots that doesn’t have an annoying moment though out the entire duration that I want to skip when I rewatch.

I think, despite many of the love stories in the film ending miserably, the fact people can keep coming back to it as a Christmas romantic classic shows how strong the positive traits are here. For anybody who loves the movie but didn’t see, here’s a Red Nose Day special following up with all the characters! Tomorrow we will be going for another multi-narrative film, The Holiday!

Published by James Sumner

Writer, reviewer & journalist. BA: Multimedia Journalism. MA: PR & Digital Comms.

3 thoughts on “Christmas Countdown Day 11: Love Actually

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