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Flicks With Nicki – ‘Love Actually’

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Flicks With Nicki – ‘Love Actually’

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Nicki Salcedo


I love the holiday season. I love romance novels. You would assume that I love romantic movies. Especially ones set in snowy small towns with tender-hearted heroes. But the truth is I don’t like romantic comedies. I hate just about every movie with love story. In short, I am romance movie grinch. I have safely avoided “Love Actually” over the years. Many people either love or hate this movie. I decided to watch it for research purposes.

Some ground rules: “Love Actually” is not actually a romance. By definition, a “romance” is a story with a happy ending. On the other hand, a “love story” does not necessarily have a happy ending, but it should still have satisfying resolution. It’s the difference between a Disney movie and Shakespeare’s tragedies. Because “Love Actually” is nine intertwined love stories, we get a little Disney and a little Shakespeare.

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A forgotten rocker remembers the importance of an old bromance.

A widowed man (Liam Neeson) tries to navigate his grief while helping his stepson (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) get noticed by his crush.

A dude (Andrew Lincoln) is in love with the wife (Keira Knightley) of his best friend (Chiwetel Ejiofor).

An incel believes all British women are cold and travels to America to find love.

A distracted and overworked woman (Laura Linney) is in love with her handsome colleague (Rodrigo Santoro).

A jilted writer (Colin Firth) runs off to France and falls in love with his Portuguese maid.

British Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) falls in love with a shapely, but foul-mouthed member of his staff (also known as his maid).

A harried mother (Emma Thompson) loves her husband (Alan Rickman), but he is tempted by his aggressive secretary (also known as his office maid).

Sexy body doubles (Martin Freeman and Joanna Page) from a movie exchange small talk and find love. This is the best one!

The premise of the movie is that love is all around us. Director Richard Curtis shows the terrible and sweet sides of love.

Friendship is an important kind of love. We see the friendship between the rocker and his manager. We see that the dude and his best friend share their own kind of love. It might be greater than the fleeting desire of romantic love.

We see the bonds of family. The stepfather has to navigate his new responsibilities as solo father while watching young love bloom just has his wife recently died. We see brothers and sisters and families who love and ignore each other.

Love is funny. The script is face-paced even though the movie is more than two hours long. “Love Actually” does not rely on sentimental dialogue. Humor is something that brings us together and moves the story along.

Part of the fun is the intertwined plots. The Prime Minister has a sister. The sister has a best friend. The best friend has another friend. Someone lives next door to another person. They all end up at the same Christmas pageant.

My complaint is not the lack of nine happy endings. I can deal with heartbreak, but unfortunately the female leads disproportionately get broken by love. Love is blunt and direct and painful. The women have to deal with being called fat. They have to choose between family responsibility and love. They have to watch their husbands cheat. The women don’t actually get to love. They get to be loved if they are lucky or pretty.

I wish the movie ended on a note that you can be harried and still be loved. I wish the message was that you can be responsible to your family and still be loved. But no. Love hurts. Even at Christmastime.

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And for the ones who find love, I’m not sure why. Was it because the maid stripped down to her bra and panties? Maybe. More likely, it’s because love doesn’t speak one language. Love doesn’t wait for us. Love doesn’t always last. But it can. It might.

“Love Actually” is guilty of being a movie stuck in the year 2003. Note to men: Stay away from your assistant, secretary, and maid. Stay away from your BFF’s wife. Don’t fool around with airport security or casually reference that the world needs love because of 9/11. Those topics don’t play well today.

We want most to believe in love. That’s probably why so many people love this movie.

Though I cringed many times, I didn’t hate the movie. I liked seeing my favorite actors as these different characters. I tried to reconcile them with their characters in “The Walking Dead,” “300,” “Game of Thrones,” “Dr. Strange,” and “Black Panther.” More than once, I call the dude “Rick Grimes.” Honestly, it helped me like the movie better.

Yes, love is all around us. Sometimes that love is stupid. Out of 9 stories, there will be at least one that you like. Grade B-.

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