Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Jojen Reed in Game Of Thrones) who plays Sam is the youngest of the Love Actually cast. Sam’s view of love seen through his young eyes reminds us of that first crush could crush you. And, don’t forget his victorious smile at the airport!
I know that I should actually hate Love Actually. It’s messy, sugary and overstuffed. It is the best bad Christmas film ever. Richard Curtis‘s movie is now 15-years-old, and Love Actually still gets to me. Most of the characters are terrible people, with the exception of the objectively perfect Emma Thompson. Thompson’s story line, set to the soundtrack of Joni Mitchell and the sound of my heart breaking, shows that it is the late great Alan Rickman‘s character who is in the wrong, not her. Their reconciliation at the end is bittersweet and reluctant, not joyful. It’s complicated.
Laura Linney‘s story line is told and played with tremendous empathy. When Linney chooses her brother over a potential lover, we aren’t supposed to feel bad for her, or for the guy, Karl. I feel sad about the situation, but there is no sense that Linney has lost out just because she ends up spending Christmas with her brother rather than with Karl’s biceps.
Linney’s story line demonstrates that while the romantic relationships have their problems, the non-romantic scenes come off best. In addition to Linney and her brother, we see the rather lovely bonding between Liam Neeson and Brodie-Sangster as step-dad and son, in a story arc that’s much more about escaping grief than about a 10-year-old boy with a crush on his classmate. Their relationship is the most beautiful of the entire movie, and it also bears the most important message of all. So much of the movie is less about the success of love, and more about all the ways love can be brutal, painful and ultimately, fail.
There are 12 different story lines, all of them linked in some way with the exception of rock singer Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) and his manager (Gregor Fisher), who are not acquainted with any of the other characters, but Billy appears frequently on characters’ radios and televisions, his music video twice providing an important plot device for Sam’s pursuit of young Joanna (Olivia Olson); the pair cross paths with the other characters in the closing scene at Heathrow airport.
I’m really like the story line about the guy with the terrible pickup lines. He is seen as a clod and a cad by his friends in London, but when he goes to America, he becomes an exotic, sexy mystery man.
I like the way that the film makes Hugh Grant seem like he could actually be a Prime Minister, simply by making the President of the United States (Billy Bob Thornton) so horrible.
I am in love actually with the story line with Martin Freeman as a porn body double bumbling as he asks out a woman with whom he has pretended to have sex.
One couple hasn’t spoken to each other in the same language before their wedding proposal. Another inspires a major foreign policy decision out of workplace sexual harassment. Yet, how can you not love a movie with a gratuitous musical number, and entire soundtrack full of terrific songs?
Nighy’s Billy Mack campaign to get his Christmas Is All Around parody single to Number One becomes a funny, yet sharp commentary on Christmas consumerism. I really love Bill Nighy.
Watching Love Actually has become a tradition at my house. I’ll be laughing at Hugh Grant’s dancing once again this Christmas Eve. If you like Love Actually, I encourage you to do the same, regardless of what others tell you. And when it is over, listen to Baby, It’s Cold Outside.