You know something? I have no recollection of who first turned me onto this movie. Romantic comedies have never been the first genre I go to when I’m looking for something to watch. But it’s both a movie I took to, and a Christmas movie, so here we go…
The story of Love Actually is actually several storylines that take place in and around London in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The film begins with Hugh Grant (playing in an incoming Prime Minister) reflecting on how you can go to the airport and constantly see reflections of love. “Love, actually, is all around us.” His character, one of the world’s most powerful men, falls for one of his houseservants. A grade school boy has his first crush on the prettiest girl in school. An aging rock star records a Christmas remake of one of his hit songs, tearing down his loyal assistant along the way. A dork goes to America to find loose American girls. And those are just a few of the storylines used. Puppy love, platonic love, sexual love…love actually…yeah you know the rest.
The multiple storylines thing is one of those devices that I’m really tired of. When it’s done wrong, yech! Everybody can’t do Pulp Fiction, but I’ll save that rant for another time. Love Actually, for all its built in cheesiness, does a great job of blending the different stories together, so when you get to the point where the stories merge, it feels organic (to the story). You throw in Rowan Atkinson, Keira Knightley, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as part of a great ensemble, and you have a winner.
Most memorably for me is the use of music. Richard Curtis (the director) has talked about how he chose the music as he was writing, a technique I’m starting to pick up on in my own writing. I got turned on to two of my favorite love songs through Love Actually. I was aware of “All You Need is Love”, but I didn’t really get turned on to the lyrics until I watched how it was used here (and it doesn’t hurt that the brother singing the song looks exactly like one of my best friends, heh heh heh).
Then of course is the finale, set to “God Only Knows.” I remember hearing the song at the end of Boogie Nights, but in my opinion, the ending here is one of my favorites to any film (in the context of ‘what story is the filmmaker trying to tell?’) This is the film that put God Only Knows into my top ten songs of all time. God willing I’ll be picking up three of the people I love at the airport tomorrow morning, and that song will be playing in my head all morning.
I’ll be back next week. Merry Christmas everyone!