Film / Love Actually

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Love and Christmas are all around.

"General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion... love actually is all around."
The Prime Minister

Love Actually is a 2003 Romantic Comedy set during Christmas time in and around Great Britain.

The film revolves around several different people and their relationships, all woven together. Among the myriad plotlines, we see:

  • David, The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (Hugh Grant) falling hard for Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), the girl who does the tea in Number 10 Downing Street, who also draws the eye of the visiting U.S. President (Billy Bob Thornton)...
  • His sister Karen (Emma Thompson) going through a rough patch in her marriage when her husband Harry (Alan Rickman) finds himself drawn to his secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch)...
  • Harry's colleague Sarah (Laura Linney) finding herself torn between pursuing love with a long-time crush, Karl (Rodrigo Santoro) and her family obligations...
  • A mystery writer, Jamie (Colin Firth), decamping to France after his brother sleeps with his girlfriend and falling in love with the Portuguese maid Aurelia (Lucia Moniz), despite neither of them speaking each other's languages...
  • An ageing and burnt-out old rocker (Bill Nighy) making a last stab at music success, with his manager (Gregor Fisher) attempting to moderate his lifestyle...
  • Karen's friend Daniel (Liam Neeson), a recent widower, trying to help his young stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) through his first case of heartache...

And more...

The film is unabashedly sentimental, even though not all its stories feature Happily Ever After endings, and quickly became a holiday staple.


This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Decay: In-universe, as part of a nativity play that takes... several liberties. Including three lobsters, an octopus, a whale, and Spider-Man.
  • Author Catchphrase: Richard Curtis likes to have a Butt Monkey character in his movies called Bernard (his college girlfriend ran off with someone of that name and he's been taking revenge ever since). In this case it's Karen's "horrid son".
  • Anthology: Yes. This is a single movie that is also an anthology. Mostly thanks to Loads and Loads of Characters.
  • Bait and Switch: Mark gazes so longingly at the newlyweds Peter and Juliet that Sarah asks if he's in love with him, leading the audience to think that this is the reason he's so hostile to Juliet. Only for him to be in love with Juliet after all, thus putting a fresh twist on a clichéd situation.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Being Billy Mack's manager is one hell of a P.R. nightmare.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Karen and Harry apparently decide to just brave on, even though they may not be happy again for some time; Sarah decides she cannot give Karl a chance due to her caring responsibilities; Mark's final scene suggests that he's still not over Juliet.
  • Black Best Friend: Tony, and Peter.
  • Blonde Tory Sex Kitten: You know what I mean: Margaret Thatcher - that saucy minx!
  • Book Ends: The arrivals gate at Heathrow airport.
  • Bowdlerize: Aside from the standard removal of curse words, etc., John and Judy's sub-plot is completely removed from the AMC airing. No doubt the editors realized that there would be absolutely no way to get around the fact that they're naked in nearly every single one of their scenes.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Early in the Aurelia scenes, she refuses a biscuit, saying that the writer would understand if he saw her sister. Near the end of the movie, he meets her sister, who's noticeably fat and homely.
    • Daniel's first scene is his wife's funeral, and there's a joke about him having a crush on Claudia Schiffer. He spends the rest of the movie trying to help his stepson Sam win over the girl he loves, which brings them to the school play, where he meets a woman played by... Claudia Schiffer.
  • British Accents: Colin is convinced that having one will make him devastatingly hot in America. He's right.
  • Bury Your Gays: Only in deleted scenes. The female teacher of one of Karen and Harry's kids is shown to have a female lover who dies in a later deleted scene. Also averts Nobody Over 50 Is Gay, as both women clearly are.
  • California Doubling: Milwaukee, WI, shows up in a brief scene, and everything from the airport sign to the bar looks like it was shot in California. The only thing that looks right is the shot of the house at the end of the scene.
  • Can't Believe I Said That: When meeting David the Prime Minister for the first time, Natalie worries about how she thought '(she) was going to say "shit" or something and ruin everything'.
    Natalie: Hello, David. I mean, sir. Shit, I can't believe I've just said that. And now I've gone and said shit. Twice. I'm so sorry, sir!
    David: It's fine, it's fine! You could have said fuck, and then we'd both have been in real trouble.
    Natalie: Thank you, sir. I did have a terrible premonition I was going to fuck up on my first day. ... Oh, piss it.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Colin, at least in his home country; he thinks that going overseas to America will improve his luck with the ladies. It works.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • Claudia Schiffer plays a lookalike of... Claudia Schiffer.
    • Harry Potter is mentioned. No word on who plays Professors Snape and Trelawney, or Rufus Scrimgeour either. Not to mention that Hugh Grant nearly played Gilderoy Lockhart. ( To be fair, The film came out before The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) so only Alan Rickman's example counts. Not that its not more significant than the others put together.)
  • Chekhov's Gag: Billy Mack jokes that if he gets number one, he'll strip naked on live TV. The video of him doing this distracts airport security long enough for Sam to sneak past and see Joanna.
  • Chew Out Fake Out: In a scene cut the theatrical release, (but included in the DVD extras), Karen is called to her son's school because his teacher is upset by a theme paper he wrote, in which he described how the world would be different if people's farts were visible. Karen listens attentively to the teacher and head, and then quietly takes her son into the hallway to talk to him;
    Bernie: Sorry, Mum.
    Karen: I'm sorry too, Bernie. Sorry and ashamed and embarrassed... that I have put you in a school with such total and utter pricks that they don't get a good gag when they see one! I mean, this is high-class comedy. This is first-rate stuff! Look, you're my son and obviously I have to love you. But right now, I really love you! (Mother and son dissolve into laughter)
    • A deleted scene reveals that the head also thought the idea of visible farts was funny, but had to not laugh because of her position of authority.
  • Clark Kent Outfit: Where was Karl hiding those arms!? (I mean, aside from in his shirt.)
  • Closed Door Rapport: Liam Neeson's character sometimes talks to his step-son through the door. Sam mainly responds by leaving notes on the door itself.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: While naked and simulating sex acts, John and Judy chat as easily and casually as if they were fully clothed.
  • Concert Climax: Nearly all the characters end up in the audience at an primary school Christmas concert. It culminates in an awesome cover of "All I Want For Christmas Is You".
  • Concert Kiss: "So, not quite as secret as we hoped."
  • Convenient Slow Dance: A slow song starts just after Karl asks Sarah to dance at the office Christmas party.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: "Love Is All Around" is changed by Dreadful Musician Billy Mack to "Christmas Is All Around" in a blatant attempt to have a Christmas Breakaway Pop Hit. Later there's a Fanservice video.
    • Billy himself finds the whole idea ridiculous, even while recording it, and refuses to promote it without deep sarcasm. For instance, from a radio interview:
    Billy: Oh come on, Mikey, you know as well as I do the record's crap. But wouldn't it be great if Number One this Christmas wasn't some smug teenager, but an old ex-heroin addict searching for a comeback at any price? All those young popsters, come Christmas Day... they'll be stretched out naked with a cute bird balancing on their balls, and I'll be stuck in some dingy flat with me manager, Joe, ugliest man in the world, fucking miserable because our fucking gamble didn't pay off. So if you believe in Father Christmas, children, like your Uncle Billy does, buy my festering turd of a record. And particularly enjoy the incredible crassness of the moment when we try to squeeze an extra syllable into the fourth line.
    Mikey: I think you're referring to 'If you really love Christmas...'
    Billy: 'Come on and let it snow'? Ouch.
  • Covers Always Lie: Rowan Atkinson is always shown to be a main character of the film but he only actually appears twice. He was supposed to have a larger role, but much of it was cut due to time constraints.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Throughout the movie, Colin is convinced that his British accent will make him irresistible to women in America, and is justly mocked for this belief. When he finally arrives in America, he is proven completely correct.
  • Did Not Get the Guy:
    • Sarah, the lone Downer Ending in a movie of mostly happy ones.
    • Mark's ending, to a lesser extent ( he doesn't expect to get Juliet from Peter.) It becomes an even lesser extent when considering that it's not that Mark didn't want to be friends with Juliet; he was so in love with her that his defence mechanism to save himself pain was to push her away. The movie makes it clear he loved his friend Peter deeply and loved Juliet madly, but couldn't reconcile his feelings towards both because they were getting married. So while he didn't blame either party, he still felt a little betrayed on the inside.
  • Disappeared Dad: We never do find out what happened to Sam's biological father, aside from the fact that he's not seen.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Hilariously subverted when Billy Mack makes an appearance on what appears to be a version of old Saturday morning show SMTV Live;
    Billy: Oh...Hiya kids. Here's an important message from your Uncle Bill. Don't buy drugs. ...Become a rock star, and they give you them for free!
  • Eagleland: Mixed Flavour. The US President (played by Billy Bob Thornton as George W. Bush with an added dose of Bill Clinton's infamous womanising) is textbook flavour 2. It's the Sarah character, and her deep concern for her brother over her own happiness, which balances out the movie's portrayal of Americans. Joanna is also an American and is portrayed positively.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Aurelia is fluent in Portuguese, but starts out speaking no English at all, although she begins to learn. She falls in love with a writer whose English is perfect, but whose Portuguese is even worse than her English. We only see them a few weeks after they've each started learning, though.
  • Everyone Looks Sexier If French: American girls to Colin, Colin to the American girls, Aurelia to Jamie.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Colin is certain his British accent will make him irresistible to American girls. He's somehow right, and it's taken to such an extreme it turns into pure parody.
  • Fanservice: Joanna Page (best known for playing Stacey in Gavin and Stacey) gets naked in a few scenes.
  • Femme Fatale: Mia. She's pretty and alluring but she is deliberately flirting and making moves on her married boss. During the company's Christmas party, she dances with Harry in front of his wife. She's even wearing a devil costume!
  • Flat Character: Mia. Her entire existence is to be hot, sexy and tempt her boss.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: John and Judy are engaged by the end, after only knowing each other about ten weeks. Likewise Jamie proposes to Aurelia after knowing her three weeks.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Juliet thinks this is why Mark doesn't like her.
  • Funny Background Event: When Jamie is going to Aurelia's restaurant at the end, he walks past a wall with a completely unrelated French graffiti "TV: first cop in France".
  • Genre Savvy: Daniel and Sam come off as this, with a full knowledge of love films.
    Sam: You know the films, they never get together until right at the very end.
  • Gossip Evolution: When Jamie comes to propose to Aurelia at the end, the rumour soon goes from "Father is about to sell Aurelia as a slave to this Englishman" to "Apparently he is going to kill Aurelia".
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: The Film. Mark pulls off a good one at the end with the cue cards, Jamie abandoning his family Christmas to fly out and ask Aurelia to marry him, the PM—the PM! — personally scouring an incredibly long street door to door to find Natalie...
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: The ending of Aurelia's story plays out in Portuguese, with subtitles revealing that it's rather amusingly broken Portuguese. Of course, this is justified as the character speaking had just started to learn.
    • Worth noting: Colin Firth's Portuguese is actually quite accurate, and he makes next to none of the grammatical mistakes the subtitles accuse him of. His pronunciation is dodgy, however.
  • Happy Dance: Sarah excuses herself to do a brief one after she finally gets to bring Karl back to her apartment.
  • Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight: Billy, oh so much.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Billy Mack and Joe. Although they don't realize how much they mean to each other until the end.
  • Hide Your Gays: The film manages to depict and celebrate every form of human relationship and connection, except one. Richard Curtis has said that an early draft of the screenplay had a sub-plot involving two schoolgirls attracted to each other, and a sub-plot involving the headteacher of the school and her dying female partner that was filmed but not included in the final cut is mentioned above as an application of Bury Your Gays. The treatment of queer characters in the Richard Curtis oeuvre makes interesting food for thought.
  • Homage Shot: Word of God has stated the scene where Mark reveals that he's in love with Juliet by showing her his tape of her wedding, which is entirely made up of shots of her is an homage to the ending of Cinema Paradiso.
    • Sam's shouting his crush's name when he's in the airport chasing her (which we don't hear) is a Shout-Out to The Graduate.
    • Peter and Juliet's wedding was reportedly inspired by Jim Henson's funeral, which reportedly also featured a surprise audience-participation sendoff of sorts.
  • Hyperlink Story
  • I Didn't Mean to Turn You On: Juliet to Mark.
  • Intimate Artistry: The film shows two different artistic connections:
    • Juliet believes that Mark dislikes her for marrying his best friend Peter. However, when she watches the recording he made of the wedding, she notices that all of his shots are lovingly framed of her and she realizes that he is actually in love with her. Mark had been cold and distant because he did not want to hurt either Juliet or Peter by injecting himself into their happy relationship.
    • John and Judy meet as they are working as stand-ins on a film production of an adult nature. They spend all of their time together naked and simulating sex acts trying awkwardly to hold normal conversations in compromising positions; at the end of their plot John works up the courage to ask out Judy while staging the last scene.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Mark says he will try and move on from his feelings for Juliet - and he's kept his distance from her precisely because he loves Peter very much too. The fact that he still organised a grand gesture at the wedding reaffirms this.
  • Just Friends: Mark and Mia.
  • Lady in Red: Mia is wearing a seductive red devil outfit at the Christmas party, when she asks for a dance with Harry.
  • Language Barrier: Between Jamie and Aurelia.
  • Language of Love: Jamie and Aurelia.
  • Latin Lover: Karl for Sarah.
  • Last Girl Wins: Harriet is the last of the American girls Colin meets. She's the one he brings home.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Natalie, Aurelia and Juliet all have their hair down for the first time in the movie when they share their 'moments' with their respective beaus.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Karen and Daniel.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Follows nearly twenty characters, to greater or lesser degrees. See One Degree of Separation below.
  • Love at First Sight: How Sarah felt about Karl. Yes, Everyone Can See It.
  • Love Triangle: Of course. There's Mark-Juliet/Peter as well as Mia-Harry/Karen.
  • Loving Details: When Sarah is called in to speak with her boss Harry at the start of the film, it seems at first that she simply keeps very close track of her own employment history. It soon becomes apparent, however, that she can only recite the details because they're relevant to the first moment she met her crush Karl.
  • Man Hug: Billy Mack and Phil the Manager share an intensely awkward and equally heartfelt one at the end of their storyline.
  • Male Gaze and Female Gaze: Notoriously, with Aurelia and Karl as the main eye candy.
  • Maybe Ever After:
    • Sarah and Karl. Their last scene is left open and could be interpreted as Sarah choosing to focus more on looking out for her brother - or just temporarily putting things on hold until she's better at managing things.
    • Harry and Karen are a little frosty at the airport in the epilogue. They appear to be trying to stay together but it's unknown if their marriage will survive.
  • Missing Mom: Sam's mother dies before the start of the movie. We see her Meaningful Funeral.
  • Monochrome Casting: See Token Minority.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: An aversion. Colin Firth's character's Portuguese is mostly coherent; it's mainly plurals in the wrong places and incorrectly-conjugated verbs (common beginner's mistakes) rather than him saying something completely incoherent and out of context. There is an eel reference at one point, but he has good reason to fear eel-attack at that point.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Especially when they're acting as stand-ins for a sex scene.
    • Also, the schoolgirls laughing at pictures of naked men in the gallery Mark works in:
    Mark: Actually, they're not funny, they're art.
  • No Party Given: The Prime Minister, although Fridge Logic suggests he's a Conservative (he is clearly implied to succeed Tony Blair and seems to have achieved the position by virtue of winning an election rather than succeeding within the party). He also... admires Margaret Thatcher.
    • It'd be unusual for a General Election to be held in November, mind.
    • Worth noting that there's said to be a "strong feeling in the [PM's] party" that he should stand up to the Americans - Atlanticism is a very strong sentiment in the Conservatives. It was the left was more sceptical about Blair's relationship with Bush
  • One Degree of Separation: Nearly all the main characters are linked directly or indirectly; only Billy Mack and his manager have no real connection to the other characters (unless you count his performance distracting a security guard at exactly the right time). Earlier than that, seeing the video gave Sam the idea to become a drummer to impress Joanna. The song was playing at frequent intervals throughout the whole movie since. Here's a chart to make things easier.
  • One Steve Limit: Sam falls for a girl called Joanna, which was his late mother's name. This is also lampshaded when Daniel meets a Carol and he mistakenly calls her Karen - and his friend Karen is another character. Elsewhere David has a butler called Terence and a driver called Terry.
  • Only in It for the Money: Billy openly, cynically and hilariously states that this is his sole motivation for recording "Christmas Is All Around".
  • Our Presidents Are Different: The Prime Minister is textbook PM Personable, but played in a way that virtually no work has ever done.
  • Overly Long Gag: The gift wrapping of the expensive jewellery in the shop.
  • Playing a Tree: A good chunk of the pageant roles.
    Daisy: We've been given our parts in the nativity play, and I'm the lobster!
    Karen: The lobster?
    Daisy: Yeah!
    Karen: In the nativity play?
    Daisy: Yeah, first lobster.
    Karen: There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?
    Daisy: Duh.
    • There's also an octopus, penguins, a vomiting whale, a starfish and a Spiderman King.
  • Pluralses: When the Colin Firth character asks his housekeeper in clumsy Portuguese) to marry him, she says, "Thank you, that will be nice", and then when he remarks that she learned English too, she says, "Just in cases".
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner
    Sam: "Let's go get the shit kicked out of us by love."
    • There's a few others. The Prime Minister right before finding Natalie:
    David: Hi, Jack? I need a car... Right now. (Theme Music Powerup)
  • Present Peeking: Emma Thomson's character accidentally finds a golden necklace and gets excited. But her husband actually bought it for his Love Interest from work. When she opens the present of the same shape and size with her family, she's visibly disappointed because it's a CD. The CD is very meaningful, but she figures out he bought the necklace for someone else.
  • Promotion to Parent: Sarah's problem with regards to her Ill Brother.
  • Race for Your Love: Sam at the airport chasing Joanna.
  • "Risky Business" Dance: The Prime Minister dances around to "Jump" by the Pointer Sisters.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Harry's wife Karen is contrasted with the seductress Mia who is appropriately dressed as a devil at the party and gets a red lingerie scene.
  • Rule of Three:
    • Billy goofs when recording his cover, singing "love" instead of "Christmas" twice. He gets it on the third attempt.
    • Colin hits it off with three girls at the bar (though a fourth later joins them).
    • When said girls are getting him to pronounce words in his English accent, he says three words. The third one sounds the same.
    • When David searches for Natalie's house, the third one he tries gives him the directions.
  • Self Plagiarism: Colin blowing it with the wedding cook by not realising he's insulting her own food is straight from a deleted scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral. Curtis even forgot to change the speaker's name for one line, so the script says it's spoken by "Charles".
  • Sexy Santa Dress: In Billy's video the backup dancer ladies are wearing skimpy, red, feather-trimmed dresses.
  • Shipper on Deck: Sam and Karen's son share a giggle at the Meet Cute between their parents, Sam later suggesting he give her an Anguished Declaration of Love.
  • Shout-Out: Billy's video is based on the Robert Palmer video to "Addicted to Love".
    • The Screenplay of the Film has a picture of Billy and Joe embracing in a similar pose to the picture on the Fight Club page.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: In-story, the Prime Minister has this reaction to his driver/bodyguard's (Gavin?) incredibly rich, deep and very very Welsh voice when they are entreated to sing Christmas carols by some pleading children while going door to door.
    • Richard Curtis was worried that Olivia Olson's singing voice would look fake coming from such a young girl, when in fact she actually was that good. The final version has her stopping for breath several times when she didn't actually need to.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: With two exceptions, very idealistic.
  • Sweater Girl: Juliet is wearing a tight, but tasteful, sweater in one scene.
  • Take That: When Hugh Grant's Prime Minister character moves into Number 10 Downing Street, there are a few jabs at his predecessor as PM (who's implied to be Tony Blair).
  • Talking with Signs: Mark uses a set of pre-made signs to confess his feelings to Juliet and wish her a merry Christmas while covering for his presence with a taped choir singing "Silent Night".
  • Title Drop: In the opening narration David says that he find "love actually" is all around us.
  • Wedding Day: Peter and Juliet's.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Takes place in Heathrow airport, a month after Christmas.
  • You Are Fat: Poor Natalie has to deal with this from almost everyone apart from the Prime Minister. No wonder she falls for him.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Mia comes on to Harry constantly, and he either wants to sleep with her or already has by the time Karen confronts him.

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