“Love Actually” won the distinct honor of being the top vote getter in my reader poll. I had never seen it, and frankly didn’t remember even seeing the trailer. But so many folks told me it was their favorite film and I just had to see it.
The story takes place in London near Christmas and begins with a voiceover from Hugh Grant (later we learn he’s the Prime Minister) about the arrivals gate at Heathrow. He says that unlike the stories we hear about, love is the main thing here. Between moms and daughters and new couples and old couples and everything in between. “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
And so it goes. This film is one of those multi-faceted story-lines that interweave with one another from time to time. There is the single Prime Minister (recently elected) who shows up at No. 10 Downing only to fall for a new house worker there. Or his sister, Karen (played by Emma Thompson) who is entering the middle age of her life and her husband, Harry, looks to inject a bit more love into it with a lovely new necklace for Christmas, or so she wrongly thinks. It’s actually for a co-worker of his whose quite flirtatious.
Another woman at his work place, Sarah, is encourage to pursue her obvious love for the creative director named Karl. Sarah finally musters up the courage and goes for it. After they go out, we learn she has a brother who is mentally ill and constantly calls her, and she always answers the phone, killing any possible relationship with Karl.
And so it goes. There’s the recent widower who attempts to help his step-son discover true love for the first time. And the couple who meet working as porn body doubles together (yeah, I’m glad I didn’t watch this with a parishioner). Also the 50-something rocker who gives the films its featured song (a butchered remake of a hit for Christmas). And a newly married couple with the best man who seems to have eyes for the groom (or so we think). Also the writer who finds a love oversees. I’m sure I’m missing one or two of the stories.
I liked the premise, thought it could have done without some of the nudity, and certainly there were too many plots to follow. Yes, love actually shows up in the strangest of places, and yes, it’s not a Christmas film obsessed with stuff. But I wanted more meaning at times other than just a couple hooking up. Maybe I expect too much.
So, actually, I give this film my middle of the road rating:
I can see why so many love it. I won’t be joining them though. Once was enough for me.
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