I don’t know of anyone who openly disavows Love Actually. And I include myself among the fans of its annual viewing: the film is already an icon of Christmas and of the love we yearn for, of our most impulsive and childish and unbridled aspirations, of everything we would want to live if life were a feature film written with our velvet hands. It is to name it and that a unanimous sigh resounds through the room while some of them miss the chorus of All I want for Christmas is you. It is clear that Richard Curtis’ romantic comedy could seem like the perfect gift to stay in love with the screen, forgetting the rent that goes up, when crush What happens to our face or to the idiot of our boss – now also the damn pandemic -, because there are nuances but there is no reply: it is easy to fall in love with Hugh Grant and his entourage of subjects, interspersed in stories that speak of universal truths. What happens that the same after 18 years of highly sugary lie we could start to come out of lethargy and review the cloying – and cynical, and selfish, and macho – of his message.
First: the film fills its mouth talking about love but portrays horns, betrayals and, how could it be otherwise, the eternal subordination of the surrendered woman and caregiver. Karen (Emma Thompson) is there for everyone; He cares for his children, comforts his best friend Daniel (Liam Neeson) after the death of his wife, advises his brother David (Hugh Grant), newly elected British Prime Minister, and even turns a blind eye when he realizes that her husband Harry (Alan Rickman) is having it with his secretary. No one is there when she, wrecked, assumes the antlers and contains the bitterness of her wounded heart. And what does it do? Well feign normalcy And throw pa’lante, because she knows that her destiny as an ideal wife is linked to endurance without complaint. He forgives him without even the hubby singing the mea culpa with his tail between his legs.
Karen is there for everyone; no one is there when she, wrecked, assumes the antlers and contains the bitterness of her wounded heart
Something similar happens with Sarah (Laura Linney), who has been in love with her co-worker Karl (Rodrigo Santoro) for years and the weight of the relationship ends up succumbing because she carries the emotional load of his brother’s mental illness, enduring with adorable patience all the calls he receives from the psychiatric center. One of them happens the day they end up making out for the first time in her apartment, postponing the sexual encounter to another scene that never comes; too much pressure for Karl having to deal with bad vibes on the other, evidently better only than with messes of other people’s skirts. There is neither empathy nor understanding. Only the selfishness of those who do have a choice.
There goes another sentimental tremor: the most romanticized and idealized chapter of Love Actually is also based on a resounding failure of the fraternity, the unbreakable pact between friends, the unwritten rule that everyone knows: never be infatuated with your colleague’s partner – and, even less, make her eyes like a slaughtered lamb seeking her complicity. Because when Mark (Andrew Lincoln) shows up at Juliet’s (Keira Knightley) house with his written cartoons and his Christmas carol radio and tells her about To me, you are perfect, we are not facing a romantic scene from a movie: we are witnessing the Judas kiss himself. And never better said: let’s remember that the meeting ends with a peak perpetrated by her, with premeditation and treachery, with her husband Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) waiting for her inside the house and leaving a subtly hopeful Mark. Feed this another eternal prejudice of humanity against femininity: the vile, playful, treacherous woman like Eva and her apple. The friend’s betrayal loses all force at that moment because it is the fatal Woman the one that gathers the witness of their evil. Two men and a destiny, another woman meddling in the camaraderie of the cocks.
It’s the same old story: romantic love squeezing to make us more silly and complacent to all kinds of dealings, paternalism or waiting. What happens in Love Actually is that women do not take control of their lives, they only wait for them to decide the how, when and why. Let’s see: until Jamie (Colin Firth) takes the step to go to Portugal to look for Aurelia, the love story between the two is doomed to oblivion and distance. It doesn’t matter if she got on to him or was especially attentive, adorably affectionate – while she made him coffee and toast and he could just dedicate himself to being a creative writer.
When Mark says that about To me, you are perfect we are witnessing the very kiss of Judas
It is not the fault that they do not speak the same language: it happens that women are not used to stopping short and demanding answers on matters of the heart. They kiss when he decides he’s ready and she (oh, surprise) says yes. Even with the cartoon of Sam (Thomas Sangster), Liam Neeson’s stepson, we see how the masculine courage is sustained by daring and guts to get what you want. It doesn’t matter that the girl he likes has barely spoken to him in 128 minutes; his stepfather urges him to fight for his dreams, to go with everything, even if that includes getting fully into the life of someone who has not given him a single hint of reciprocity. And what is the answer in the end? That she kisses him, implying that women, even when we are teenagers and want something, do not have any kind of power. Again.
Or like when the president of the United States visits Downing Street and makes a rude and disgusting comment about an employee of the Prime Minister and the resourceful Hught Grant’s immediate response is to ridicule him at a press conference, thus putting his manhood on the lectern to defend the disgruntled woman. Nathalie (Martine McCutcheon) is a nice girl, without mincing the tongue, a big woman with character that evolves into a harpy when David suspects that he is fooling around with the American president. The prime minister He only sees the other’s hand sneaking up to Nathalie’s thighs, but the first thing he thinks (and he already believes bluntly) is that she is a whore. Then he realizes the fatal mistake and runs to find her – he too chooses the moment, of course – and she melts in his arms. She is treated as fat, whore and jacket but what does it matter: she is in love and her love has returned to give her a place in the world. The feminist talk can wait.
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‘Love Actually’ is a lie