That's the message of Richard Curtis' 2003 romantic comedy behemoth, Love Actually, which showcased no less than 13 celebrities in starring and supporting roles and also featured at least 4 or 5 separate romantic storylines that interweave in and out of each other. Curtis wanted to show that, even in dark times like ours when events like 9/11 can make us doubt that the sun will shine again (yes, I'm being overdramatic for a purpose), love is everywhere if you look for it. And this film, set in the weeks leading up to Christmas in London, has almost all of it. Young love, old love, wounded love, lost love, parent/child love, first love, family love, etc. You name it, its there. Yes, some of the tales are just so precious you might want to brush your teeth afterwards from all the sweetness, but conversely some of the stories are bittersweet and/or complete failures (such as Laura Linney's thread with her sexy co-worker or Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman's tiny saga) and in doing this, Curtis creates one of the most realistic romantic comedies ever made. I don't mean realistic in that in real life anytime you walk around the corner love could run right smack into you...no, but it is difficult to deny that somewhere around you, someone is expressing love. And its not just romantic love. We love our friends, we love our pets, we (sometimes) love our jobs, and we love our family. Love, contrary to what some films show, is not just about falling in love with a mate. Love is also the small kinds of things that we take for granted in our everyday lives. And yes, Curtis does develop the romantic plots a little more than the other subtle love plots, but he kinda has to. I mean, that's what we came to see. However, one cannot scoff at love the way it is used in the film because he really has tried to include so many varieties of it. Its rather a corny concept actually and I'm amazed that he got it made...but the finished product is one of my favorite feel-good experiences. And what better time is there to feel-good than at Christmastime?
Actually, I think the Christmas setting really helps the story because it hypes up the love. We all express love in very concrete ways at Christmas, with our gifts for each other. Everyone buys something for someone (except in really sad cases...sorry) and we often do it without thinking. Its just what's done at Christmas. In this way, we express love for our friends and family (and sometimes spouses or long-term partners) as well...we do it without thinking...because its what we're supposed to do. It gives the story a wonderful backdrop to play against and also allows Curtis to poke fun at certain Christmas traditions (such as the school holiday pageant and department store gift wrapping services). Most of the time you forget that the film is even happening at Christmas but I think that if this story had taken place at any other time of year, it wouldn't have been as effective. I think its because at Christmas we get that special charged feeling inside, like something wonderful is happening or about to happen. We can smell it in the air. Maybe...just maybe...what we sense and feel inside isn't excitement for the holiday...maybe its love.