“Love Actually” Storylines — from most Absurd to most Wholesome/Sensible
Among the myriad of films that have been created specifically to grace our Christmas screens, I have been particularly fond of the British picture “Love Actually” for the better part of the past two decades. I’m apt to believe that I’m hardly an anomaly here.
I have, however, also began to eye-roll and side-eye half of the storylines, some for being cheesy and others, well, for being downright vile or absurd.
So here goes. My Christmas Day 2021 musings as I watch the film for the 67th time, heart full of merriment and mug fuller of beer. The storylines of ‘Love Actually’ based on which I found most absurd to the most credible and/or heartwarming.
(SN, as many times I’ve seen it, I don’t remember 80% of the character’s names, so bear with me. Extra S.N: I recognize there are deeper problematic themes within the film; however much has been written on those already, plus I just wanted to keep it lighter this time around!)
Category A: Bah-Humbug! Stop with the Nonsense.
1.) The British Prime Minister is Ready fi Risk it All.
When I say “All”, I mean just that. The US & British have disagreed on many a thing, but never has the PM called out the US president so viscerally in public. One of the most important alliances in global history- over frustrations surrounding a subordinate employee by the way! (Now, love story aside, the president did cross a line- but that could have been handled behind the scenes better.) Oh, to cap it all off, the PM goes to the hood to find this girl on Christmas, and boom, she making first lady-esque appearances!
2) Rick Grimes loves Keira Knightley, who JUST got married to his good friend, New Scar.
This is my least favorite storyline in the movie; the only reason it didn’t start the list is because of the geopolitical implications of the first one. But, first of all, I get the idea that Rick Grimes’s crush on Keira is supposed to pull on our heartstrings. No, dude is a creepy McCreepface. The way he recorded her at her wedding would be jarring in any circumstance, but your friend’s wife? A few days after the wedding too? And the grand gesture in the end has since become the most iconic moment from the show. It is creepy and disloyal AF. What is he doing declaring undying love to his friend’s wife? Told her not to alert him even! That, and the fact that she enjoyed it and even kissed him after, means her marriage is doomed off bat!
(Also, worth noting that Black/White interracial couples in movies where their race wasn’t the focus were extremely rare in the early 2000s. So to have one such couple be compromised in this way…sucks!)
3) Portuguese/Brit love story
Like, Y’all know nothing about each other, each other’s languages included! Who among us has not fallen for the maid at our vacation BnB? That’s hardly a realistic premise upon which to uproot your lives, especially y’all haven’t one legit convo! Firth, you crazy for this one bruh!
4) Colin Frizzle Goes to the US
One of the more comedic storylines, young Colin decides to go to US because, as a Brit, he can get laid EASILY anywhere in the US. So he goes, and at the first non-try, he is in a fivesome with four baddies. The whole thing was just…right on the nose. No legit obstacles, no nuance, nothing.
Category B: Putting the “Meh” in Meh-rry Christmas!
5The Soft-Porn Actors Fall in Love
Just a veritable workplace crush, with their “job” (pun not intended) being the intriguing angle here. It’s…cute. It’s even been described as the “purest romance” of the film; we just didn’t get enough it, perhaps.
6) Billy Mac “loves his manager”
I actually rather like this one. Another one played for comic effect, and a forerunner to the “chosen family” trope that is commonplace today. Good on his manager though; he’s been through a lot!
It’s the Most Wonderful Cinema of the Year!
7) Dad from ‘Taken’ is a good Dad
This one is wholesome. Left to raise his stepson after his wife, the boy’s mom, has passed on. Ol’ Liam has to work young Sam through his first crush. The crush itself is cutesy schoolboy stuff; but the relationship between Stepson and stepdad in the aftermath or a loss that could have ruined either or both of them is wholesome.
8) Snape Tries to Cheat
Now Alan Rickman has played plenty a villain, but none quite like this! Well, almost. After a flirtation with a (much) younger colleague garners a little more traction than is ‘safe’, the man Snape decided to get her a pricey piece of jewelry. His wife, played by the incredible Emma Thompson, however, catches wind of this and thinks it’s for her; only to be disappointed when presents are opened and she’s gotten…a frikkin CD. Not since that night in 1988 at Nakatomi Plaza has Rickman effed up Christmas quite like this! The descent into infidelity by an otherwise well-adjusted family man, the silent outburst when his wife discovers the betrayal, and Snape’s resigned admission to being “a classic fool,” pulls right at the heartstrings.
9) “It is What It is.”
After finally getting through to her crush of “two years, seven months, three days and, I suppose, what… two hours?”, Sarah is about to get it all the way on. She does, however, keep getting interrupted by phone calls from her brother, who is in a mental health institution. Before the relationship even has the chance to go anywhere, the guy decides it’s too taxing being with someone who is at her institutionalized brother’s beck and call; so he decides to not pursue things with her beyond that point. The schoolgirl-esque crush is enchanting, especially when it seems like it’s gonna be consummated. Sarah’s unwavering devotion to her brother is both tragic and heartwarming. Finally, the guy’s candor about what he could or could not handle in a relationship right before he had led her any further was…refreshing. An oft-forgotten subplot in this Christmas day classic, it definitely deserves its plaudits this season!
What do you think? Do I disagree with my categories and categorizations? Leave it in the comments, and let’s keep it jolly and merry!