"Don't sigh, don't cry!" Emma Thompson on THAT Love Actually scene / YouTube
It’s not particularly feminist, it’s not even particularly romantic, but I can’t let a Christmas go by without watching Love Actually.
The 2003 British romcom launched a whole new wave of A-list ensemble pieces, particularly focused around key holidays, but try as they might, none have managed to capture Love Actually’s charm.
And look, you don’t have to search hard to find an article pointing out everything wrong with the blockbuster: it’s sexist, it’s shallow, it’s overwhelmingly white. Men fall in love with women without talking to them. Prime Minister Hugh Grant refers to Maggie Thatcher as a ‘saucy minx’ (I read one article complaining that it humanizes her, another complaining it was sexist).
But I’m not interested in any of that.
I suppose I just don’t have any taste, but Love Actually is one of my faves. From the turtlenecks to the Joni Mitchell, Love Actually is beloved (actually) in this household. Here are the best (worst) bits.
Laura Linney quietly (not so quietly) fizzing with excitement because she's got Karl back to her improbably gorgeous loft. I think Linney’s pad is supposed to read as ‘homely’ but, naturally, it’s completely aspirational. The cherry on top of this great moment is Linney running around cleaning up while Karl makes his way upstairs. Let’s not talk about how it goes from there.
Bill Nighy in the role of his lifetime. Playing a Rod Stewart/Ozzy Osborne/Keith Richards composite, Nighy is the funniest performer in among an embarrassment of funny performers. And remember kids, don’t buy drugs (become a pop star and they give you them for free).
Rowan Atkinson gift-wrapping the illicit necklace. Even if you hate the rest of the film, Mr. Bean slowly (all too slowly) wrapping Alan Rickman’s secret gift for his secretary is fantastic. Oh, this is not a bag, sir – this is so much more than a bag.
Emma Thompson crying in her room. Considered by some, quite unironically, to be one of the best pieces of acting of all time – Emma Thompson crying to Joni Mitchell is simply unforgettable. Thompson nails it, and she breaks your heart even further by pulling herself together and scooping up her children.
The entire body doubles storyline. The concept of this relationship is incredibly simple (two naked body doubles strike up an innocent connection) and therefore, nothing messes it up. It’s nice to find someone I can really talk to says Jack, with Judy’s thighs wrapped around his head. Utterly hilarious, and a little bit cute. Just try to remember this one before you sit down to watch the film with your parents (I forget every year).
Prime Minister Hugh Grant shaking his bum. Yeah, so, maybe he demotes one of his workers because he has a crush on her, and maybe he’s a bit of a wimp, but
Tony Blair Hugh Grant dancing down the stairs, only to be caught by a stoic member of staff, is what Christmas is all about.
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