Love Actually is a Modern Christmas Classic
Every year, there are certain Christmas traditions that I love and look forward to. Of course, there's cutting and trimming the tree, baking cookies, and wrapping presents, but most people also have a favorite Christmas movie. For me, that movie is Love Actually.
I often wonder just what has become of our world. It sometimes seems as if people are much more willing to be snarky than nice, not to mention the constantly depressing world news stories. At the beginning of Love Actually, Hugh Grant's character comments on this. However, he chooses to take a different view of it. Instead of focusing on all of the negativity in the world, he watches the people at the arrivals gate of Heathrow Airport and observes the love they share. It's simple love between family and friends, but it is love all the same. His monologue is accented by real life footage of said arrivals gate and it is easy to see what he means. Despite all the bad in the world, there is plenty of love surrounding us.
This simple introduction leads into the more upbeat movie, beginning five weeks before Christmas. The holiday spirit is everywhere with an enormous Christmas tree in a courtyard and a famous musician recording a Christmas version of a well known song. One nice aspect of this movie is that Christmas is everywhere, and yet it is not constantly thrown in your face as it is in some movies. Most of the stories have nothing to do with the holiday, but instead happen alongside it. It makes everything feel more realistic instead of forced and contrived.
Love Actually has a wonderful ensemble cast, mainly consisting of British actors. Alan Rickman and Colin Firth are, admittedly, my favorite (I remember watching Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice when I was very young), but I love everyone. Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman, Keira Knightly, Hugh Grant, Rowan Atkinson, and Laura Linney round out the cast. Everyone has such great chemistry that it's easy to fall right into the story and the characters' lives. With some of the eccentric scenes, it would be easy to overact, but that doesn't happen here. Everyone is incredibly talented and has wonderful chemistry together.
The real magic of this wonderful Christmas movie is in the story lines. It is sometimes difficult to keep track of just how many story lines there are, but I count nine separate stories. Each story in itself is enchanting as you watch the characters stumble through life and love, but throughout the movie you slowly begin see how each story connects together to form an intricate web. On Christmas Eve, nearly all of the stories come together at a (unique) school Nativity Story production, and then diverge again to find their own ends.
To add an extra level of realism, not all of the stories end happily. Not that the movie is a downer, of course, but the fact that not everyone lives happily ever after makes it all more believable and less scripted. Though the stories all center on love, they do not feel repetitive. One married couple deals with the temptation of an affair, while others who have just met try to figure out their feelings. A father tries to help his stepson through his first love while dealing with his own grief over his wife's death. There is also a rather amusing and endearing language barrier for another couple to overcome. Each story will touch you and draw you into the world and leave you wanting more.
I can't go a Christmas season without watching Love Actually at least once, often twice. And I always need a box of tissues because I'm always crying by the end (and often throughout). Love Actually is truly a modern Christmas Classic that reminds us to appreciate our loved ones, celebrate the spirit of the season, and to find love all around us.
This fun trailer gives you a glimpse into this wonderful movie and some of it's quirky British humor. The entire cast is delightful and will make you want to add this to your Christmas playlist. Love Actually is the perfect modern Christmas movie.