It’s Christmas, so most of us are probably eating too much, drinking too much, and generally being merry. We’re also probably watching Love Actually, because what better way to end another quite horrible year than with a festive film about love?
But before you start to feel all warm and fuzzy over that airport scene and Hugh Grant nailing another challenging “bumbling Englishman” role, here’s a few things I don’t love about Love Actually. Actually.
1. Mia for being the most under-developed ‘sexy secretary’ character since porn (probably)
Obviously Mia is the most hateable character in any film anywhere ever and it doesn’t need much more explanation other than the fact she is an evil temptress who wears devil horns to a Christmas party for no apparent reason and makes Emma Thompson cry. But since we’re here, we may as well talk about the part where she opens her legs in the middle of a really busy office and says things like “it’s all for you” to a married man.
She also seems to think it is reasonable to book a work Christmas party three weeks before Christmas, which I’m sure we will all agree is insane and makes her a pretty rubbish secretary. (Equally insane is the fact she actually seems to like that disgusting heart necklace that Dirty Harry buys her. Take it off, Mia – I don’t care if it was 250 quid and wrapped by Mr. Bean. It’s horrible.)
Disclaimer: Yes, I know Dirty Harry is just as bad if not worse than Mia but Alan Rickman has literally just died, have a heart.
2. Keira “they’re all of me” Knightley
Rivaling Mia in the annoying female character stakes is Keira Knightley’s Juliet, who provides us with the second-worst line in the film*. It’s when she’s watching the creepy wedding video while eating banoffee pie (not the kind of snack you casually eat on-the-go, btw) and she says “I look quite pretty” as though this is a massive surprise. Which of course it isn’t because a) it’s her wedding day so you’re supposed to look pretty and b) she’s Keira fucking Knightley. Oh, and then she kisses her new husband’s best mate. While wearing bellbottoms.
*If you’re interested, the worst line in the film is when Colin Firth’s cheating wife shouts ‘hurry up big boy’ to her lover; a phrase no self-respecting woman has ever used in real life.
3. Billy Bob Thornton for giving us a glimpse into our future
2017 ruined this bit for everyone. Once upon a time we’d have celebrated the scene where Prime Minister Hugh Grant stands up to the misogynistic American president harassing women. Except in 2017 we have an actual real life misogynistic American president harassing women and no one is standing up to him. To be fair to Billy Bob Thornton’s character, he might say ‘nice pipes’ to Martine McCutcheon, but he didn’t claim to have grabbed anyone by the pussy.
4. The crap clothes
I know it was a good 14 years ago, but I don’t remember clothes in 2003 being as bad as they are in Love Actually. Most of the fashion faux-pas can be attributed to Juliet: The hairy cardigan she gets married in, the Oliver Twist hat she wears to watch the wedding video, and the fact she’s constantly wearing crop tops in December. However, honorary mentions must be given to Mark’s colour-blocked fleece after he inexplicably runs from his own home, Peter’s completely unacceptable metallic shirt (albeit the most interesting thing about his character), and Sarah for wearing a woolly hat TO A WEDDING. Oh, and the sheer amount of turtlenecks. Dear God, the turtlenecks.
5. The implausibility of it all
Yeah yeah, it’s a rom-com and we’re supposed to suspend our disbelief, but there’s an awful lot of suspending to be done when it comes to Love Actually. General elections apparently take place in November. People seem to like the Prime Minister. There’s a school play on Christmas Eve involving half of London. A mere two years after 9/11, a young Jojen Reed from Game of Thrones manages to sneak through customs in the UK’s biggest airport and outrun security and no one’s really that fussed.
6. Colin, God of sex
I accept he’s supposed to be the comic relief. But he’s not funny and the only relief is when he’s not on screen. He’s also responsible for delivering the line ‘try my lovely nuts’, so there you go.
7. The fact I don’t actually hate it one bit, actually
As Julia Stiles once said to the late Heath Ledger (RIP): I hate the way I don’t hate you. Because deep down, I love Love Actually. I mean, I know it’s cheesy and ridiculous and the editing is all choppy and the majority of the ‘love’ stories are just men wantonly seducing younger female employees in what would blatantly be a HR nightmare.
I know it’s not okay that they cut out the same-sex love story and kept in the really boring one where someone has to “light the nipples” of Stacey from Gavin and Stacey while Tim from The Office does some kind of weird boob massage.
I know there are only two credible female characters in the entire film, and one of them (Laura Linney) gets her boobs out for basically no reason while the other (Emma Thompson) has to wear a bloody fat suit.
I know you probably won’t find an artistic low point to rival the scene where Hugh Grant starts dad-dancing to Girls Aloud.
But I can’t hate it. I can’t even hate the “to me, you are perfect” scene, even though Mark is basically a romanticised voyeur who filmed extreme close-ups of his best mate’s new wife in HD on her wedding day. I love the optimism, I love the big romantic gestures, I love the idea we might get a happy ending at this time of year even if we’re Colin bloody Frissel. Because it’s Christmas, and at Christmas the promise of snow and Mariah Carey and too much mulled wine makes the whole world seem magical, even when it isn’t. Especially when it isn’t.
So that’s why, despite my general cynicism and the fact the character in the film who most closely resembles myself is probably Bill Nighy’s, I can’t get enough of Love Actually.
The heart wants what it wants.