If the title alone was surprisingly not the most condescending thing about Love Actually, then I would have been shocked based on that alone because the course of events that take place in this supposedly charming romantic comedy all live under an illusion. Richard Curtis’s Love Actually managed to earn a reputation as a delightful Christmas treat in some circles and yet, the opening already suggests the general idea that it wants to get across and yet its picture of such idea is where the film falls on its knees. Love is all around, that is said idea, but Love Actually only inspires a hate-filled rage out of me.
Going by the film’s general idea of “love being all around” what we are told is a series of stories all of which carry a supposed idea of love being found in different people in America and the United Kingdom. From this very misguided idea that it lies upon, everything about Love Actually only begins to fall apart because of the very fact it tries to present everything that it shows as “love” only begins to display just how misguided it all is. And if it were only going to start when we look upon the storyline that revolves around Andrew Lincoln and Keira Knightley, then there’s a whole load more where that had come from.
What sickens me so heavily about Love Actually is how much it manages to misunderstand a general grasp of the concept of “love being all around.” As I started by saying that Love Actually is a film that lives under an illusion, what I mean right there is that it thinks that it is presenting a general grasp of love and in turn it ends up getting the whole concept completely done wrong from start to finish. Rather than getting down to a point it ends up feeling genuine in the slightest what we get out of Love Actually is instead something so mawkishly sentimental to the point it only ends up ringing more false notes and the final results are vomit-inducing at their very worst.
If the sentimentality were not the worst aspect of Love Actually, it would be from the very nature of the good lot of characters whom we are watching. What’s made clear from Richard Curtis’s structuring is that he wanted to create an ensemble drama that would link so many groups of characters together a la Short Cuts or Magnolia, but what’s more troubling comes the fact that so little about these characters would ever ring as appealing when placed inside of another world other than the one which we are watching. Alan Rickman at least can feel like a standout amongst the whole bunch for at least it seems he is trying his hardest to make what can appear to be a smugly written character into something more entertaining but with a plethora of idiots and creeps that the other male leads we have here, it is never enough to make up for the insufferable nature we receive.
Though if I want to highlight some specific moments as overbearing with sentimentality from how poorly handled they are, I knew from the introduction in which the collapse of the Twin Towers was name dropped that it was only set to get much worse from there. Hugh Grant is an idiot of a Prime Minister, Andrew Lincoln films Keira Knightley to the point he becomes smitten and eventually stalks her, Colin Firth decides he will learn Portuguese in order to talk with a housemaid whom he barely even knew for one moment, Liam Neeson teaches his son how to chase a girl – and the most frustrating part is that it all seems washed off as if it were “sweet” and it makes the experience more distasteful. Because many of these characters across this map are given so little time to breathe with the film’s own running time of being a little over two hours, we have a rather aggravating number of sudden tonal shifts and none of the supposed “sweetness” ever feels genuine, it can so easily rub one as saccharine which fits so perfectly in describing what formed such a loathsome experience. Its attempts to ring emotional beats only come off as blatant manipulation which makes for something all the more sickening.
For all that it’s worth, I’m baffled especially with what audiences see out of Love Actually that actually makes it something sweet for the holidays. It reeks of blatant desperation to grab at one’s emotion and condescends its audiences about the general idea for how badly it misunderstands its own self, and only falls victim to more smugness on that note. Things were not just aggravating from that setup, but the soundtrack just rarely fits and the worst offender is a terrible cover of the overplayed “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” If there was a single movie that you want to blame for all the horrible holiday-themed romantic comedies out there like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve, don’t blame them even for as horrible as they are for starting it up for it was Love Actually that did everything first. Love is all in the air as this movie says, but clearly not as it suggests.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Universal.
Directed by Richard Curtis
Screenplay by Richard Curtis
Produced by Duncan Kenworthy, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Liza Chasin
Starring Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, Martine McCutcheon, Bill Nighy, Rowan Atkinson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Martin Freeman, Andrew Lincoln
Release Year: 2003
Running Time: 136 minutes