Trust your instincts and love Love Actually
If you were to do a Google search for Love Actually you’d likely find, as I did, a host of scathing articles that tear the 2003 British film limb from limb. Critics seemingly flock from all corners of the internet to dispel any rumours that the film is heartwarming or funny and to explain instead why we must revolt and expose Richard Curtis’ creation as the dumping ground for overcooked rom-com tropes that it apparently is.
Nearly anyone who has taken to pulling apart the film in such a way has described it as pedestrian in its writing, hollow in its intent and thinly drawn out in terms of character development. One such article on Jezbel.com went as far as to say that the decision to open the film at Heathrow Airport points to an ‘unexamined privilege’, because only rich people are affiliated with air travel.
While much of the criticism may well be accurate this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s valued or, more importantly, in tune with the reasons people indulge in holiday romantic comedies in the first place.
What’s interesting about so many of these articles is that they’re written in overtly defensive tones, they tell us why the movie is bad despite what we’ve been ‘wired’ to believe. In other words, our base instinct as viewers is to love Love Actually until we are told why we should hate it. It’s only when we put on our important person spectacles and pick through it with a fine-tooth comb that holes begin to develop.
Is Colin Firth’s decision to marry a woman he’s never had a proper conversation with practical? No. Does it make you go ‘aw’? Probably.
I’m not saying films that pose as light in nature should be immune to criticism but to not take Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman’s fake marriage woes with a grain of your favourite holiday condiment/seasoning would be to take the film (and perhaps yourself) a tad too seriously.
Love Actually is not Citizen Kane, but it doesn’t purport to be. It’s easy to watch, it’s packed full of familiar faces and if the combination of spiked eggnog and Hugh Grant’s impassioned evisceration of America doesn’t get the juices flowing then I’m not entirely sure what will.
This Christmas, I’ll be trusting my instincts and watching Love Actually because, for one reason or another, it never fails to make me smile. Not once in its fourteen year existence has it taken itself too seriously. I think I’ll follow suit.