Like most every person, the holiday classic Love Actually is a regular in my Christmastime small screen rotation. Viewings ramped up in college—my roommates and I averaged four per season. It’s a nice point of contact for all of us around this time of year, now that we’re scattered across the country.
In keeping with this very special tradition, I snuggled up earlier this month for my first annual viewing. A selection of my real-time thoughts below, as I rode this particular rollercoaster of emotions for the first time this holiday season.
If you’re really committed (or unfamiliar with the various storylines), I recommend reading while watching, to give these unfiltered comments some context. A festive holiday beverage is also encouraged.
Note: Text has been edited for brevity, but content is almost precisely as it was recorded.
DECISION: Fave storyline—Sam and Joanna. This kid’s eyes are the darkest, deepest chocolate-brown, against ghostly pale skin. He is a faery child. With a broken heart.
WHY DO YOU LOVE KEIRA KNIGHTLY, BRO? WHY? IS SHE TRULY SPECIAL, B/C I DOUBT IT?
Liam Neeson mourning wife, pre-Natasha Richardson Tragedy: always uncomfortable and sad. Eeek.
The British are so different from American folk. They joke/talk about sex and death (“wee motherless mongrel”) immediately and without pity. It’s astounding.
Would the UK ever elect a single man Prime Minister? This is a think-question. Also, would he be allowed to joke about murdering someone on government authority?
Remember when things were recorded on VHS? I mean, really.
“It’s a self-preservation thing, you see…” BEST USE OF A DIDO SONG. EVER.
Laural Linney/Karl is the saddest storyline. Did you know that the only other movie credit of note for the actor playing Karl is The 300? Is anyone surprised? No.
I have a theory about this one – Laura/Karl get BACK TOGETHER after a couple more awkward encounters at the office, post-weird almost hookup. Also, remember when middle school dances were this way?? Fast songs turn into slow ones really unexpectedly, and dance-partner expectations suddenly skyrocket??? Are holiday parties really like this? Seems like bad business – though great for holiday sex.
Christmas is definitely the time to do dumb and amazing things. Most people are slightly tipsy most of the time, and literally everything shuts down, so you don’t feel guilty sitting around and catching up on TV or reading because WORK CANNOT BE DONE. Even the president goes to Hawaii for two weeks, and North Korea is done catfishing Sony.
Secretary is the wooooorst. We hhhaaaate herrrrrr.
This is probably some of the best work that Rowan Atkinson has ever done. He is the all-knowing, omnipresent and slightly derivative joker character who somehow makes everything come together – the fool, for fans of Early Modern Drama.
“THIS IS SO MUCH MORE THAN A BAG.”
“Fancy a Christmas drink?” (aka, simulated blowjob ask-out scene). I just had to explain what body doubles are to my friend’s mom, who is watching the movie with us. Full disclosure: spent many an early-watch of this movie believing that these two were porn actors. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
“AND HE’S GOT A BIG NOBBBBBB!”
I must say, excellent music choices all around. Santana soundtrack-ing Colin’s arrival in Wisconsin? Just perfect. Ever wonder where Kim Bauer, Don Draper’s wife and that girl who plays a Russian model in like six movies started out? Look no further than this Milwaukee dive bar!! Giving American ladies everywhere a good name.
Are five-somes with four girls really not overwhelming to a single man? Disbelieve.
“It’s a real first!”—something so sad is about to happen! Don’t open it, Emma Thompson—IT’S JUST A JONI MITCHELL CD!!
Terrible Secretary: Is that B always in pajamas? Get some real clothes.
Took me forever to realize that the Billy/Fat Manager Joe was not a homosexual thing. It’s friendship—love. Which is so subtle and great. Not that I don’t love homosexual love. But seriously. It’s great.
“All I want for Christmas is you!” It’s very strange to say this outside of the context of the song. Seems stalkery, or like you’re a simple idiot and don’t know what sentences sound like out loud. You’re cute, but figure out how to be better at charming Martin Freeman. He’s a gem, and deserves more.
“Look everyone, it’s Uncle Jaime!” Why did you bring me cloves of garlic from France? I can get those at Whole Foods, if I really want fancy ones. P.S., for people who are traveling internationally right now and want to buy me presents—cashmere.
“Say it’s carol singers!”
So many logistical problems with this scene:
- What if Peter answered the door???
- Is it not suspicious that carolers are accompanied by string instruments?
- Dear continuity folks: You have him dropping placards on the ground throughout the scene. Then, cut to walking away with all placards perfectly ordered, under his arm (after the strange double thumbs-up thing). I don’t know why this bothers me, but it really does. When were these collected, and neatly stacked?
- Keira Knightley kiss: This is a point of great moral ambiguity and debate among friends and family. Is this kiss a gift–or a terrible and unnecessary betrayal, as well as a confusing thing for Mr. Preppy Man, who is in love with you for no reason? I rather fall into the camp of “relatively harmless,” mostly because big romantic gestures are difficult to for me to let slide without any kind of recognition whatsoever. I would probably do it. Just being honest. Don’t know if this makes me bad, but I hope not. Doesn’t mean I love you any less, future husband (especially if you are as sexy as Chiwetel Ejiofor).
I don’t really want to talk about the Prime Minister/Natalie ending. I feel very meh about it, this time around. I can’t help but notice there are many charming, older British gentleman matched with women more than twenty years their junior this film. It’s a little discomfiting. Pre-prostitute Hugh Grant and the always delightful Colin Firth mitigate this a bit, but mostly—come on.
Christmas concert: The break dancing boys in the background are my absolute favorite people in this climactic final scene. What an excellent touch, guys.
“I never told your mom enough—I should have told her every day, because she was perfect every day.” YES.
I really wonder what would happen if I came up to an airport attendant and was like, I NEED TO SAY GOODBYE TO THE LOVE OF MY LIFE. Would the Christmas spirit move them to let me past? Probably not, but I like to think this is possible, always.
Heart-picture collage!! Airports really are like this, I think. Except I sincerely hope that the Secret Service, and “coppers” protecting our elected officials are better on their game than these guys are. Is that lady in a red coat, about to jump our PM, a threat?! Let’s let her elbow past us and see!! Oh, good—it’s just his (terribly inappropriate) girlfriend. Just saying, this could have gone down poorly.
Such terrible pop songs on credits. Boo.
WE LOVE YOU! SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!