Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / Love Actually

Go To

  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Is Sarah's storyline suggesting that duty to your family is more important than romance? Or that family love is just as important as romantic love?
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Did Harry and Karen separate at the end of the movie or decide to brave on? And we never find out how far Harry went with his secretary. As Karen points out, she doesn't know if it "was it just a necklace, or sex and a necklace, or, worse of all, love and a necklace?" According to Emma Freud (Richard Curtis's partner and the film's script editor), Harry full on cheated but he ultimately stayed with Karen, albeit in a strained marriage. This even goes unanswered in the Red Nose Day sequel, due to Alan Rickman's death the previous year.
    • Advertisement:
    • Karl. He's supposed to be this really nice guy, but he treats Sarah more like a one-night-stand than anything else. Also is their final scene meant to be Sarah deciding not to pursue a relationship, or is she simply putting it on hold until she has more time? Does he really treat her like a one-night stand, though? He seems pretty hurt when she tells her brother she's not busy while she's with him, and he's the one who approaches her at the Christmas party. If anything it seems like he thought she only wanted a one-night stand, or he recognises that her brother comes first and she isn't emotionally available for a relationship. He cordially greets her at work even after the whole escapade, so it's not like he totally ignores her later.
    • Every single relationship in the movie. Since Mark is still in love with Juliet, it's possible that his friendship with Peter will deteriorate. Jamie and Aurelia barely know each other - a marriage that may possibly fail. Ditto for John and Judy. David and Natalie are from very different backgrounds and it could be that their relationship won't last because of his job, if you want to be as pessimistic as possible about it.
    • Advertisement:
    • In the original screenplay, Rowan Atkinson's character was a kind of "Christmas angel" who dropped in. Since most of his scenes were cut, in the actual movie it seems more like he is just a random Troll who comes out of nowhere and aids the cause of love by tricking people because it's fun.
  • Awesome Music:
    • There are three main love themes in the movie, all of which are great:
      • The Glasgow Love Theme, a very poignant, lovely piece on piano.
      • The Portuguese Love Theme, a subtle, romantic tune.
      • Last but not least, the Prime Minister's Love Theme, a soaring, exciting orchestral piece which occasionally becomes Recycled Trailer Music.
    • "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell is a touching song that represents Karen's story perfectly.
    • "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys sets just the right mood to end the film.
    • The Beatles' "All You Need is Love" from Peter and Juliet's wedding, as performed by everyone who attended the wedding.
    • Advertisement:
    • Eva Cassidy and Norah Jones, with "Songbird" and "Turn Me On", respectively.
    • The Pointer Sisters' "Jump (for My Love)" is perfect for the Prime Minister's moment of glory.
    • Olivia Olson's performance of "All I Want For Christmas Is You". And she could actually sing it even better, except that Richard Curtis worried that people would assume she was dubbed so he instructed her to insert breath pauses she didn't really need.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The rather random scene where David decides to do a dance around 10 Downing Street to "Jump" by The Pointer Sisters. It seems a little out of character for him, and Hugh Grant dislikes it for this reason. It also adds nothing to the overall narrative.
  • Broken Base: The Colin subplot of him going to America hoping to score with the girls there. Half the base finds it rather insulting towards American women and a bit too parodic in tone versus the movie's mostly grounded nature. Others find it Actually Pretty Funny.
  • Common Knowledge: Mark's climactic stunt with the cards is often attacked as a creepy stalker move, and trying to emotionally blackmail Juliet into sleeping with him, with even Andrew Lincoln himself saying years later he was uncomfortable with it. This ignores that one of the cards actually specifically says he's doing it "without hope or agenda," and it's portrayed as him simply needing to get it off his chest so he can move on and find his own happiness.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Jamie and Aurelia seem to be the favourite couple among fans.
    • For many, Billy Mack simply steals the film.
    • Sam and Joanna are well-liked for being adorable, and Olivia Olsen's singing doesn't hurt.
  • Fanon: It's common for fans to assume Jamie and his brother are half-siblings, with different dads, as his brother does not appear in a later scene with Jamie's family and they don't look at all alike.
    • Except if you look close enough during the scene with Jamie's family his brother can be seen in the background.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The film is actually more popular as a Christmas tradition in America than its native Britain.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Emma Thompson plays Liam Neeson's friend, who comforts him over the death. She would do the same in real life after Natasha Richardson's passing.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Billy's storyline mirroring Rage Against the Machine's surprise number one six years later.
    • Sam and Joanna's actors do voices for the cartoon Phineas and Ferb... as a boy and the older girl he has a crush on. Possibly an intentional Actor Allusion. And for added flavor, their characters end up together in the Distant Finale.
    • The Prime Minister's first name is David and he is implied to be Tory - and the film was released well before anyone could have realised David Cameron would become the next Tory PM.
    • Mark's card message includes a picture of a mummified corpse. Andrew Lincoln later became the lead star of The Walking Dead. Also, try watching the aforementioned TV series's first two seasons while remembering how Mark loves his best friend's wife.
    • Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson play brother and sister. This is hilarious if you've seen them playing lovers in a film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.
    • Colin Firth's fiancée is told by her sister "go to England so you can marry Prince William." Fast forward to The King's Speech, where Firth plays Prince William's great grandfather.
    • Laura Linney on the phone to her brother says, "I'm sure [the Pope] is very good at exorcism." Two years later, she stars in The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
    • Liam Neeson's character puts Titanic (1997) on to provide emotional support for Sam, which is funny when you know he later went on to play Leonardo DiCaprio's dad in Gangs of New York.
    • It's funny when Billy ruminates on being a washed-up rockstar in his fifties, when his character Ray in Still Crazy famously throws a tantrum about being fifty during the movie. In fact, his role as Ray is what got him cast in this movie as Billy.
    • Emma Thompson gives Thomas Brodie Sangster's father advice on how to deal with him. She later has a more direct role in doing so in the Nanny McPhee series.
    • Richard Curtis later wrote Yesterday (2019), in which the Beatles never existed. Upon the film's release, he admitted he never considered how this would prevent Mark's big gesture of having the audience play "All You Need is Love" at the wedding, and he now figures the entire movie doesn't exist in that world.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Natalie is constantly ragged on (pretty much by everyone but David) for being a fat cow. She clearly isn't. David acts just as puzzled and annoyed by this fallacy as the audience does. Interestingly, several years before the film was made, the British media was obsessed with Martine McCutcheon's weight. There was a considerable public backlash against certain aspects of UK media claiming she was fat. This storyline feels like a huge Take That! parody of that event and the media attitudes surrounding it. What a cow.
  • Ho Yay: Billy and Joe. Their storyline represents platonic love between friends, but naturally people like to read more into it. Especially since the film (outside Deleted Scenes) doesn't include any explicitly homosexual characters.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The scene with Mark and his cards for Juliet is often used, substituting his notes with other messages, including by Boris Johnson in the 2019 election campaign.
    • "After all these years, I still won't forgive Alan Rickman for buying that tart from his office a gold necklace."
  • Narm: Judy turning to Jack and saying, "All I want for Christmas... is you!" Even Martin Freeman looks a little baffled by how awkward that line is.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Rowan Atkinson of course as someone who just Trolls Harry at the checkout. He only appears briefly towards the end to let Sam get through airport security, but he sure is memorable.
    • Despite being a major motivation for Sam, Joanna doesn't physically appear until the concert. But damn if Olivia Olsen's awesome rendition of "All I Want For Christmas" doesn't make her one of the most memorable parts of the film.
  • Popularity Polynomial: Keira Knightley commented on this, saying that the film initially did well but not as well as the filmmakers would have hoped. It was met with So Okay, It's Average responses in America at first. Then a few years later its popularity grew until it was considered a Christmas tradition in some households.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Ron the Death Eater: Mark gets hit with this a lot, mostly due to misinterpreting some of the scenes. While taping only Juliet at the wedding is incredibly voyeuristic, a few viewers mistakenly thought he was the official videographer (he wasn't and the only reason Juliet sees the video is because the one she paid for didn't turn out well). He doesn't actually stalk her and in fact keeps his distance precisely because he doesn't want to mess up her relationship with Peter. The stunt with the cards is him resolving to try and move on from this obsession because he knows how unhealthy it is.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Mia. Not only is she a Flat Character, but she casually mentions in a Deleted Scene, "I'm thinking of having an affair with my boss", with apparently no thought to how it will hurt him or his family. It's especially callous when you see the scene with Karen sobbing quietly in the bedroom after she's discovered Harry's infidelity. And what's even worse? She's sobbing quietly so the kids won't hear her. Ironically, it's her who sets it up for David and Natalie to get together.
    • Colin doesn't endear himself to American female audiences for naturally assuming that American girls are easy and will sleep with whatever English guy tries to seduce them, regardless of any other qualities. And neither does the movie, for proving him right.
  • Signature Scene:
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped:
    • "'True love' and 'happily ever after' are possible, but you need to take charge of your own life to achieve it." All three characters with bittersweet endings could be argued as taking the easy way out — or doing nothing at all — to be with their beloved.
    • In Sarah's case, the message seems to be that duty to one's family is more important than romance. Or that love of family can be just as or more important than romantic love.
    • In Billy's storyline - the people who were always there for you should take precedence over people who only care about you when you're popular again.
  • Song Association:
    • It's fair to say that Hugh Grant as a sexy Prime Minister dancing at 10 Downing Street will pop in the mind of many people whenever they hear The Pointer Sisters' "Jump (for My Love)".
    • As Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas" is known for being a very divisive track, a lot of people choose to associate it with this movie - as Olivia Olsen's version is much preferred.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The woman David is in love with lives right next door to the woman trying to steal his sister's husband. Absolutely nothing is done with this.
  • Toy Ship: Sam and Joanna. Not too bad, because they're about eleven. Given what Sam does to actually make this canon. (His dad drives him to the airport, he uses a distraction to sneak past the boarding gate, jumps over a guard through a metal detector, gets chased to the boarding gates, uses another distraction to get through the final check, and then speaks to her before getting carted away), he probably earned it. And the small kiss he receives after makes it all the sweeter.
  • Unfortunate Implications: This article argues that the film has three core underlying messages about love, each decidedly suspect:
    As for the rest of the film — which is to say, the bulk of the film — I think it offers up at least three disturbing lessons about love. First, that love is overwhelmingly a product of physical attraction and requires virtually no verbal communication or intellectual/emotional affinity of any kind. Second, that the principal barrier to consummating a relationship is mustering the nerve to say "I love you" — preferably with some grand gesture — and that once you manage that, you're basically on the fast track to nuptial bliss. And third, that any actual obstacle to romantic fulfillment, however surmountable, is not worth the effort it would require to overcome.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • It's only been a week since Daniel's wife died, and his best friend tells him not to be mopey because nobody will want to shag him. To American audiences this might sound harsh, but it's a pretty accurate portrayal of British morbid humour, as well as Karen trying to treat Daniel normally instead of tiptoeing around him and making him feel worse.
    • Present day viewers will likely be put off by how the film portrays Natalie as having to apologize for the President making a move on her, completely against her will. This is a debatable example, however, as Natalie is quite clearly flustered and unsure of herself in her new job, which might result in apologizing too much, just in case. Also, the President thing took her by surprise, she has no idea where she's standing and, possibly, babbles due to stress (people are known to do that). Natalie is no Peggy Carter, who knows perfectly well where she is and didn't get there by being demure. Natalie has likely been subjected to countless lectures about how to act, underlining that one mistake may get her fired or worse. She's nervous, that's it.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: The film, at first, seems like a nice little family Christmas movie that could be fun to take the kids to, and even gets frequently aired on ABC Family. But then there's the subplot with two stand-ins for a sex scene in a movie (complete with nudity) and an implied fivesome with four American girls and one British guy. And the F-words. And several restrained but emotionally intense scenes about a superficially happily-married father of elementary-school aged children whose wife finds he's having an affair with another woman. To make matters worse, it's rated "for all ages" in Spain and the Netherlands! To be fair, if the subplot with the movie stand-ins was removed, the movie would be a lot tamer. The fivesome is only shown briefly in silhouette, the cursing isn't anything kids haven't heard before by middle school, and the emotional part of the affair subplot would likely go over kids' heads.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • Billy Bob Thornton as the US President. Even weirder, it works.
    • It seems odd that they cast Keira Knightley as Juliet, considering she was only eighteen and playing a woman who gets courted by two men several years older than her. While she didn't look that young, it seems like a strange casting choice.
  • The Woobie: A lot of the characters are easy to feel sorry for.
    • Daniel and Sam for losing their wife/mother.
    • Sarah, who is so dedicated to her mentally ill brother that it hinders her personal life
    • Karen for getting cheated on and lied to by her husband.
    • Mark for having to hide the fact that he is in love with his best friend's wife.
    • Jamie for getting cheated on by his girlfriend, with his brother no less...


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: