Love Actually (2003) Directed by Richard Curtis
I will always have a deep love of the films of Jodorowsky, Godard, Leone, Penn, Hartley, Scorsese, Welles, Hitchcock and many other so called critics' favorites. I can revisit films like El Topo or Once Upon A Time In The West many times, and a rewarding feeling comes over me. New details open up with every new viewing and I feel culturally enlivened and inspired. But the need to re-watch Hitchcock's Vertigo or any other classic movie is often tempered by once's feeling of having to be able to concentrate fully. It's about timing when watching one's favorite films. This opens up avenues for pictures that I can put on at any time and just enjoy whatever the situation.
So, in that respect Love Actually is in my consideration a masterpiece. Yes, it's episodic, sentimental, trashy, almost complete rubbish. But it makes me laugh out loud. I mean real laughing. Not some closet intellectual 'oh aren't they clever and subtle and witty' laughing. I mean belly laughing. So, put your snobbish cinema aesthetics aside. There is much wrong here, if you care to analyze. But I will instinctively reach for this off the shelf on more occasions than The Manchurian Candidate, which is such a favorite picture of mine.
Of course, The Manchurian Candidate does not have a middle-aged/class consideration on pop music, embarrassing story lines, infantile treatise on juvenile romance or many a "past their sell by date" British thespian on board. It's also lacking Hugh Grant dancing to the Pointer Sister's Jump. A genius moment. Hugh Grant is comedy gold with the right script, and this is one of those great roles for him.
Love Actually is something you don't want to admit to liking. I won't admit that. I'll just report that I love this movie, for all the right reasons.
I found this article on a cool blog (You Are Not So Smart) the other day on procrastination. The way we choose what films to watch and why we go usually for the unintellectual, emotionally comforting is somewhat explained there through the concept of present-me versus future-me. Those two are usually locked in a conflict inside us. Read the blog.
Anyway, we watched Love Actually for the millionth time. Just like we have watched Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, You Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and countless other cinematically poor but emotionally comforting films many many times. They make me feel good.
Love Actually is made out of so many strands of stories that I forget how they relate to each other. It is attempting to cater a romantic, tear-jerking plot for everyone to identify with. Being eight years old now, the movie is beginning to glow with my nostalgia for the early Noughties, when I had the guts to wear red, pink and green in the same outfit. Even the then-hit-songs by Sugar Babes and Justin Timberlake (help!) are starting to sound classic to my ears...puke.
I cannot defend Love Actually. The more I think of it the more appalling it appears in hindsight.
But in the end it just comes down to needing unchallenging entertainment with the sloppiest most optimistic message: love is everywhere, humans are capable of love after all.
Come Christmas time, we can only hope that this year's Holiday pic is something as good as this once was.