This is the twelfth in a series of posts, The Twelve Days of Christmas Movies. Each one reviewed/talked about a different Christmassy film and the whole thing spanned 12 days – one film per day. You can read the original post about it (which also lists all 12 days of movies) here.
As most of you who have either been following my blog or have read the above italicised paragraph will know, I have been spending the last 11 days (plus today) writing pseudo-reviews for a series of Christmas movies. Today, we reach our finale with the British romantic comedy classic: Love Actually.
This is probably the most famous romantic comedy in Britain, the one that has spawned dozens of imitation films like New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, all following equally interconnected couples in the build-up to a specific holiday. If you ask me, neither of those latter films will ever come close to being as good as Love Actually. Okay, so I haven’t seen New Year’s Eve, but you’d be pretty hard put to beat the original interlinked, ensemble cast, festive rom-com. That said, if you think Valentine’s Day is better than Love Actually, that’s your choice – you just can’t be my friend.
Despite all its critical and commercial acclaim, I think that Love Actually is quite an underrated film. Give me a second to explain. It’s always coming up in conversation or writing about romantic comedies, and yes, it is often considered one of the best of its genre. But that’s about it. The fact that it is just a really, really good film is often overshadowed by its status as a rom-com. It’s a bit like how Nicholas Sparks refuses to call his novels romances, because he comes across as basically thinking his writing is above that (it’s not). Love Actually is branded as a romantic comedy, and I think that has put some people off seeing it. However, it is a truly good film with a great heart and some wonderful (at times distinctly British) humour. Unless you’re a Dementor, I am fairly certain that Love Actually will manage to get at least one laugh or “aww” out of you. So yes, it is a rom-com, but it’s an excellent film at the same time.
But I could spend hours and hours going on about how fantastic Love Actually is. For me, it’s one of those films that I forget how much I love until I see it again. Then I spend the whole time going on about how I forgot how much I loved it. Everything about it is amazing: it includes loads of my favourite (and very talented) actors, who play their parts perfectly; the music is either beautifully composed or expertly chosen; the plot is woven brilliantly and you notice new parts of it every time you watch it; there are cute bits, funny bits, dramatic bits, sad bits, exciting bits, heart-warming bits…………the list goes on. So rather than spend this entire 1000-or-so words of a blog post rambling on about how amazing it is, I’ll leave you to watch and judge it for yourself.
In the meantime, I hereby present you with my list of my top twelve (because it’s the Twelve Days of Christmas) favourite moments in Love Actually. Just for fun.
WARNING: Here be spoilers. If you’ve never seen the film or are the sort of person that goes “But I didn’t know that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father“, you’ll probably want to look away now. The minor spoilers below don’t completely spoil the very end, though, so you won’t lose your entire enjoyment of the film by reading them. Besides, I’ve watched the film hundreds of times whilst knowing the ending and I just love it more every time, so I don’t think it would ruin Love Actually for you.
Top Twelve Moments in Love Actually (in no particular order)*
- David’s dance to Jump (for my Love) by The Pointer Sisters. This scene is just incredibly funny. Hugh Grant, who plays Prime Minister David, really goes all out in this part and dances ridiculously around 10 Downing Street. One of the funniest bits of this scene is the look on his assistant’s face when she sees him dancing – she is trying so hard not to laugh.
- Daniel and Sam watching Titanic and talking. This is one of the cuter scenes in the film – although any scene that Sam is in is liable to be unbearably adorable. It’s really nice seeing the pair’s relationship as father and son develop over the course of the film, and this part in particular is very sweet. The conversation they have about “the one” after watching part of the film shows how genuine Sam’s love for Joanna is, and is subtly referenced in later parts of the film.
- Billy Mack’s interview with Ant & Dec. I can imagine this one might go a bit over the head of non-British audiences if they don’t know who Ant & Dec are, but it’s another very funny scene nonetheless. The looks of Ant or Dec’s faces when Billy makes inappropriate comments is especially hilarious.
- David’s Great Britain speech. This is the second scene I’ve picked starring David’s character, but rather than being predominantly funny, this is more of a “Yeah, you go man!” moment. It’s basically a short speech about how awesome Britain is, which comes after David is bullied by the American President. It’s so legendary, even our real-life (former) Prime Minister mentioned it in a speech. If you’re ever feeling kind of let-down about being British, watch a clip of this scene.
- Harry trying to buy a necklace. When Harry (Alan Rickman) tries to buy a necklace for a woman he doesn’t want his wife to know about, the jewellery salesman (Rowan Atkinson) spends ages obsessively and theatrically gift-wrapping it. It’s a joy to watch Harry get increasingly frustrated with Rowan Atkinson’s character, whilst the latter just carries on with what he’s doing. One especially threatening glare from Alan Rickman makes you feel like saying to the jewellery salesman “If you had seen him in Die Hard, you’d be careful about annoying him this much”.
- The All You Need is Love band at the wedding. There’s not much to this scene, apart from a bunch of random musicians and a singer popping up out of crowds of wedding guests and playing the aforementioned famous Beatles song. It’s brilliant. If I ever have a wedding, I want this to happen at it.
- Jamie’s papers flying into the lake. Jamie (Colin Firth) is writing his novel on a typewriter by a small lake when his maid, Aurelia, comes out and lifts a mug off a stack of papers, causing them to blow away into the water. She runs off and jumps in the water to get them, which makes Jamie feel that he has to follow her in. This scene is both romantic and funny. Probably mostly the latter, as Jamie has a go at himself about getting in the water and ends up falling in sideways. Then there’s also the ever-present conversation between him and Aurelia, with the former speaking English whilst the latter talks in Portuguese. The subtitles make their communication issues very apparent and equally funny.
- Mark’s word card message to Juliet. Mark (Andrew Lincoln) is in love with Juliet (Keira Knightley), despite her being married to Mark’s best friend. He expresses his love for her one night by standing on her doorstep and showing her a series of cards with messages on them. This scene is romantic, but it’s also nice in the way that Mark is gaining closure on his relationship with Juliet without jeopardising her existing marriage.
- The Christmas concert. This is one of the most famous scenes in Love Actually, and for good reason. It stars Joanna singing All I Want for Christmas is You fantastically well – as in, everyone-stops-and-just-stares kind of well. The way everyone is in total shock at a young girl being able to sing so well, Sam’s overjoyed look when Joanna points at him, and the overall wonderful music – it’s just a great scene.
- David’s introduction to 10 Downing Street. Two main points that make this scene: David’s wave before entering the building (which he comments on inside) and his conversation with Natalie, a member of the staff. The first is a little silly and funny, but the second involves Natalie accidentally swearing repeatedly and basically just messing up her meeting with David. It’s all okay, though.
- Billy Mack and Joe’s reunion on Christmas. The relationship between these two men stands out as the only prominent platonic one in the film. But with a has-been, aging pop star and his “fat” manager, this is one of the less glamorous examples of bromance. I think its lack of romanticism is part of what makes this scene so sweet, because it seems quite genuine.
- Sam’s run through the airport. After the concert, Sam runs through an airport to find Joanna before she boards a plane. I love how his step-father fully encourages him to just run past security, plus the way the airport security chase after him but end up crashing into everyone. It’s the typical chasing-love-interest-down-at-airport/plane scene, but it’s sort of making fun of it and 100% brilliant, so we’ll forgive it.
Overall rating: 10/10
Christmassy-ness rating: 7/10
Mary’s parental guidance rating: 15 (it’s only language that you really need to be concerned about, and that doesn’t concern me much)
And that’s all for now! Well, I’ve had a great time watching these twelve films and reviewing them for this series, and I hope you have enjoyed reading these posts. That said, I will be happy to take a break from writing for a bit – a post a day for 12 days without breaks is tough! But I loved doing this challenge anyway; maybe I’ll even do it again next year.
I hope everyone has a great Christmas and New Year!
*According to Mary