If there's anything that we all can agree on, it's that the Holiday season is largely about love. We share love with our families, our friends, our significant others, and all the rest of the special people in our lives. So it shouldn't be surprising that a good chunk of romantic comedies take place on Christmas, given the built in seasonal expectations and universal appeal of the holiday. One of my favorites incorporates a great deal of Christmas cliches, music, and customs into an ensemble piece that features some of my favorite British actors and actresses. It is a story about how love exists everywhere in the world around us in many different ways, all we have to do is look for it. I give you, Love Actually.
The film begins with a voiceover from David (Hugh Grant) commenting that whenever he gets gloomy with the state of the world he thinks about the arrivals terminal at Heathrow Airport, and the pure uncomplicated love felt as friends and families welcome their arriving loved ones. David's voiceover also relates that all the messages left by the people who died on the 9/11 planes were messages of love and not hate. The film then tells the 'love stories' of many people including an author who falls for his Portuguese housekeeper but is unable to communicate with her, a husband and wife who are growing apart, a woman who loves her co-worker but must care for a brother with a disability, and a man who's best friend just married the love of his life. During the course of the film the stories intertwine and some will turn out well and some will fail...but that's how love works isn't it?
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, is so simple that it almost seems to go missed by many. 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?