Love Actually


** Written July 2014 **

I like my introductions – they give my Picks more of a personal touch. I want them to be quite unique in the waves of grey, overly-formal reviews. With a more informal take on my posts, I would consider myself more of a general blogger than reviewer.

On one particularly dull free period, where work was starting to dry up, two of my friends decided to write me a list of films that I should review. It was during this activity that we began to talk about what films we had each seen.

Now, as the conversation progressed, the topic suddenly shifted to ‘chick-flicks’. While I don’t watch many, I have been known to dabble in the viewing of supposed ‘chick-flicks’ and it soon became clear that I had seen far more than my comrades (take note, ladies *suggestively flitacious winking emoji*).

I was soon ridiculed on my alledged ‘taste’ in chick-flicks, to which I tried to explain in a flustered manner that it was only a few films. It didn’t help that I said I liked some, which brings me onto this Pick.

I don’t like to judge a film by its cover. While films like Notting Hill and Four Weddings and A Funeral may seem like sappy films with an abundance of Hugh Grant, they are still movies that hold good acting and clever writing to their names. I like to always bring one point of argument to Love Actually’s case… Liam Neeson. What film isn’t good with Liam Neeson? I say this while kicking Taken 2 out of sight into the claws of unhappy fans. Digression aside, I thought I would bring back the holiday cheer this summer with Love Actually.

Love Actually is a British film surrounding a large group of interlinking characters who all experience highs and lows of love at Christmas. This is a film that I love, and I will stick to that statement like glue, no matter how many times I’m referred to as a synonym of the word ‘cat’.

It is pretty hard for anyone to have not seen this film. The BBC seem to always find it a slot at Christmas and the star-studded cast makes it even more appealing. If you’re from the States, and haven’t seen this film (to which I fall out of my chair in shock that someone is reading from the States) a good comparison is Valentine’s Day, which I can’t help but feel was based on Love Actually, also being a character-based movie centering around love in a holiday season.

It’s hard to sequence the film, as it jumps from character to character who are all related somehow to each-other in some way. The film includes the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant), a pop-star trying to reach the Christmas Number One (Bill Nighy), a wedding photographer (Andrew Lincoln) enthralled by a newly wed bride (Kiera Knightly), a widowed father (Liam Neeson) and his untaken son (Thomas Sanger), a cheating husband (Snape *cough* I mean Alan Rickman), cheated on husband (Colin Firth) and many, many more.

Even smaller cameo parts are used to great effect. I make this point solely to tip my hat to Rowan Atkinson who I thoroughly enjoyed in a duo act with Alan Rickman. That’s right. To anyone who hasn’t watched this, Mr Bean and Professor Snape share a scene together. That is reason enough to like any film.

The film displays an array of emotions, creating witty comedy and a couple of tear-jerkers throughout (no, I did not cry… honest…). This adds a couple of levels to the film as we have silly arcs with heart-felt moments, and sad stories with humourous outcomes.

I like how some of the romances don’t work out for some of the characters, which defies the romance genre that the ‘correct couple’ get together. I’m not talking about something like Titanic, as Jack and Rose stayed forever in love (Rose really didn’t love him enough to give him some room on her raft though) but rather that some are left cut and dry. There are still numerous cliches, but at least the film tries something different.

The over-arching theme wasn’t particularly clear. At the start of the film, it heavily suggests Heathrow Terminals being a place of love, as the film opens to people hugging and reuniting with loved ones. However, Christmas seems to take over the whole film, with the main song being Bill Nighy’s cover of Wet Wet Wet’s “Love Is All Around” named “Christmas Is All Around”. While the final scene contains everyone at Heathrow Arrivals (I give a quick heads up to Kris Marshell’s pulling abilities) I wasn’t totally convinced by more clips of people getting back together at arrivals.

Aside from this, Love Actually contains extremely memorable scenes and romances, with everyone getting a taste of love over the holiday season. It will always be, in my mind, a timeless classic that everyone holds as a guilty pleasure (I can’t be alone on this, can I?)

Before I end, I want to make clear why Love Actually bests Valentines Day in my opinion. Love Actually keeps pacing slow and steady, which is hard to do for such a big cast, while Valentines Day tried to do everything within one day (take a wild guess what’s special about that day) which leads me to doubt that a woman can finish a day of  work at school, take a flight from Los Angeles to San Fransisco and back and still reach a party for the same night. The word to describe it is ‘frantic’.

Valentines Day tries to interlink the characters as well, but they mostly link with Ashton Kutcher, a florist who has just got engaged. The film centres around him rather than spacing out screen time around all of the characters. I prefered the more episodic Love Actually that slowly links in more to build up to the end.

Valentine’s Day tried to be different. Its romances and couples had suprsinging ends, but that’s pretty much it. It’s too cliched (e.g. the extra ticket, the parent comes home early, that a film on love is set on Valentine’s Day) and the characters really didn’t stand out for me. For a character-based film, you want good characters. I feel the blame goes to the writers on this, as faces like Jamie Foxx, Julia Roberts and Kathy Bates couldn’t save this racing car wiping out.

Cover this paragraph if you want, because spoilers are ahead! The couple that seemed to have the most chemistry was the mixture of Bradley Cooper and Julia Roberts, both on a lengthy plane-trip back to Los Angeles. They sit together, giggle like a couple of school-kids and love seems in the air. However, they go their seperate ways, with Julia saying she has someone important to go to as does Bradley (I really can’t remember the character names). It turns out, that Bradley Cooper has actually been returning to Eric Dane playing a in-the-closet sportsman, while Julia’s ‘important person’ is Bryce Robinson, her son. Wow this sounds too much like a soap. Valentines Day really did surprise me with it’s twists, and I was pleasantly surprised that I could of never of guessed them.

That’s my comparison done. All I would like to say goes to those “‘ard blokes” out there, who say a film is too girly because your significant other wants you to watch it… you’re probably right to run my friend UNLESS they’re talking about Love Actually.

Anyway, what chick-flick deserves to be recognised? Pop your thoughts down in the comments. I’ll see- well, I’ll write to you soon… but not like Dear John!

No, I haven’t watched that!

It’s beena busy day today. Happy birthday to my Grandad! A Sunday roast is a good way to celebrate. I wasn’t able to write a proper Pick so I found this one which I could use. The editing took longer than expected but it’s all done! I’ll see you all next week.