An rated R romantic comedy that takes place during Christmas? Sold!
My relationship with Love Actually is a complicated one. The movie in the trailer above is not the same movie we all know.
A rated R romantic comedy about Christmas? I AM the demographic for this movie! I loved this movie so much growing up. I watch this movie every year around this time of year. It’s basically a family tradition (that I enforced). It has a lot of my favorite British actors and is written by one of my favorite (and problematic) screenwriters. This BANKED. This movie made an insane amount of money. It grossed almost $247 million (it made it’s money back + hella lot more).
Most of the populous love this movie. It’s been embedded in our pop culture. It's a beloved Christmas classic.
Alas, as I get older the more I uncomfortable I get watching this Christmas classic. The portrayal of women in this movie is ghastly. It fails the Bechtel test (shocker). The women of this are treated and written poorly. One character is constantly being berated about her weight. Another is a body double that literally falls in love with her on-set partner while his hands are around her breasts. It's all troubling but I'm not the first to feel this way.
Carey Purcell, Not in Love Actually
The Atlantic, Love Actually Is the Least Romantic Film of All Time
Lindy West live-blogged her rewatch and it's brilliant.
Let's get to the women of this movie. The women who make the movie and really got us talking about the way our gender is portrayed.
Natalie: Her weight is the talk of this movie, which I don't understand because she's not overweight! Natalie is then found in an uncomfortable situation (with the president of the United States, no less) and APOLOGIZES to the much older Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) for it. Natalie here does what a lot of women do. Apologize for something we have no reason to apologize for. Sure, maybe she didn't want to come across unprofessional to her boss (who she has a crush on) but, apologize? Honey, no.
On the other hand, Natalie is refreshing and quite sweet. She gets nervous on her first day and straight up uses profanity in front of the prime minister, which always makes me laugh out loud. Probably the most relatable of all the characters, to be honest. She faces an issue many women face: other people commenting on her appearance. Sadly her character serves no other purpose but to be eye candy for the Prime Minister.
Karen: Emma Thompson's performance was the talk in critic circles that year. I mean, if Emma Thompson cries, don't you?
One of the things I love about Karen is how she shows the strength that woman are able to conjure even though they're broken on the inside. She also doesn't wait long to confront her husband. Karen takes care of the mourning Daniel, checks in on her brother, encourages Sarah to dance with Carl, make her kids' costumes by hand, and obviously warns her husband to steer clear of his Assistant. In return, she gets her heart broken by her cheating husband (I miss Alan Rickman every day).
You can actually listen to her heartbreaking when she unwraps her Joni Mitchell CD. Also this scene:
Juliet: Her husband's best friend seems to hate her, yet we find out after their wedding Mark, (Andrew Lincoln) is actually in love with her. Sadly, I can't redeem Juliet's story. There's nothing about it that's funny or charming (ok maybe that wedding send-off was kind of cute).
Regardless, Mark is a bad friend to Peter and I don’t understand why Juliet is charmed by any of his actions.
My question for you is this: Why is that at first watch we all love this movie? Why are we blinded by all the sexism and creepiness? If we took Christmas out of the equation, would we still watch this movie?