Canada, with its eternally polite population, frightening weather, and enlightened weed laws, is close to paradise on Earth. However, a massive proportion of the good people of this promised land have one troubling character trait that reveals itself at this time of year. Canada appears to be obsessed with the movie Love Actually.
This is concerning.
Because for a film that is (on the surface at least) a romantic comedy, its multiple storylines reveal a darkness in the mind of writer/director Richard Curtis that is both mean-spirited and profoundly misogynistic.
We hate-watched Love Actually so you don’t have to. But if you’re confronted by a fan this holiday season (god knows, there are plenty of them), here’s our character-by-character guide to why 2003’s Love Actually is the least romantic and most morally bankrupt holiday movie ever made.
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Bill Nighy (Billy Mack)
The movie begins with Nighy, a washed-up and incompetent has-been, recording a god-awful Christmas version of “Love Is All Around.” His own manager (played by the excellent Gregor Fisher) instantly identifies the song as “solid gold shit.” Realizing how low he has fallen, Nighy jettisons his dignity entirely, insulting everyone he encounters, including his manager – less-than-hilariously labelled as “fat” in every single scene, a recurring theme throughout the movie. His degeneration bottoms out as he thrusts his knob into the face of talk show host Michael Parkinson on live TV, a move that Parky seemingly enjoys.
Nighy’s reward for abandoning any sense of self-respect is the coveted Christmas Number One (for reasons now unknown, this was once considered a big deal in the UK) and, at the film’s end, a beautiful young woman (the latest of what is implied to be a lengthy list) on his arm. After all, as an already-wealthy white male, this is his destiny.
The moral of the story: People will buy any old dog shit if it has even the faintest whiff of Christmas. This is both a metaphor for the movie itself and the business model for Simon Cowell’s entire career.
Liam Neeson (Daniel)
Mourning his wife’s death, Neeson finds himself wrapped up in his pre-teen son’s love life. He throws himself into the task at hand, sharing his views and wisdom as the two of them plot a route to entrap this unseen young lady. At one bizarre point Neeson explains that, in the event that he meets supermodel Claudia Schiffer, he’ll kick his son out of the house to have sex in the lad’s room. This becomes even more confusing when Neeson does, in fact, meet Schiffer (who falls for him instantly, of course) but fails to identify her.
Neeson and son proceed to make a mockery of British airport security (honestly, it’s perfectly safe) and everyone goes home happy.
The moral of the story: Always encourage your children to bum rush airport security gates in their quest for a peck on the cheek. This moral assumes that their skin is white.
Kris Marshall (Colin Frissell)
Kris flies to America and, as this movie is at its heart a creepy British male fantasy, walks directly into a porno scene. At no point in his personal journey of sexual awakening does his manner, behaviour, or attitude improve. He merely takes the group sex and the perceived kudos that comes from the company of a beautiful woman that every male apparently deserves.
The moral of the story: It is not the content of a man’s character that is important, but an English accent.
Martin Freeman (Jack)
The moral of the story: Freeman plays a stand-in for porno movies, suggesting that even fully naked, the very idea of him having sexual intercourse will not be tolerated by a mainstream movie audience.
Andrew Lincoln (Mark)
Where can you even begin with this piece of shit? Unable to control his own emotions, Lincoln is routinely horrible to his best friend’s wife (Keira Knightly) and – at their wedding no less – makes a for-private-use-only video featuring just extreme close-ups of her face. What other purpose could this video have other than a masturbation aid? If that wasn’t enough, he turns up on her doorstep, impels her to lie to her husband, and hits on her with the silent Bob Dylan move.
For one moment, imagine if your best friend did this to your partner. Unforgivable. In Love Actually’s morally degenerate universe, however, Lincoln’s reward for stabbing his buddy in the back are Knightly’s sweet lips. This fucker deserves the zombies.
The moral of the story: Under no circumstances should you cease pursuing or masturbating to your best friend’s partner.
Hugh Grant (The Prime Minister)
Given the state of the British government today, Hugh Grant’s emotionally unstable, self-serving, Dad-dancing prime minister doesn’t seem too bad. But that doesn’t deflect from the grinding meanness of spirit directed at his love interest (the charming Martine McCutcheon, whose “Where the fuck is my fucking coat?” is the best line in the entire movie) throughout this storyline. She’s “reassigned” (sacked, essentially) after the American President (Billy Bob Thornton) thrusts himself onto her. Grant witnesses this borderline sexual assault, and covers himself in glory by publicly berating the president (a tremendously successful PR move that current leaders should follow), while punishing the victim in the very next scene.
Even more disturbing are the continual digs at McCutcheon’s weight, including an unprompted and deeply unprofessional body-shaming breakdown from the PM’s personal secretary and, as his sweetheart runs into his arms to greet him at the airport, the immortal romantic words, “God, you weigh a lot!”
This is the last line in the entire movie. I’m not making this up.
The moral of the story: What a sweet man this prime minister must be to love this obese monster.
Laura Linney (Sarah)
Oh Laura, didn’t you realize that this is a movie where only the male leads fulfil their every romantic and sexual desire? You are a woman, and accordingly (in the Love Actually universe, at least) it is inconceivable that your emotional or physical needs could be met for even one night. It is quite frankly preposterous that you, a moderately attractive woman, would dare to dream that you had a chance with the beautiful Rodrigo Santoro. Let us watch your suffering unfold in slow motion.
The moral of the story: Know your place, woman!
Emma Thompson (Karen) and Alan Rickman (Harry)
Even the hardest cynic would have to admit that Emma Thompson is brilliant in this dog toilet of a movie. Her acting reveals a depth and sadness absent from the rest of its grinding two hours and 14 minutes.
But even as we witness the dissolution of her marriage to Alan Rickman, we’re given repeated justifications for his philandering. He doesn’t pursue his secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch). Rather, she throws himself at him in every scene. His weakness is an inability to put the brakes on before it’s too late.
At one point, we watch Emma Thompson preparing for bed in her long nightgown, sighing that she’s grown too big to fit into some of her clothes. This cuts to Mia’s bedroom as we watch the mean but lean home wrecker strip down to her red bra and panties. As the unrelentingly male gaze makes clear, you probably shouldn’t cheat on your wife, but can you really blame the guy?
Rather than seek revenge or redemption, Thompson merely sucks it up and the pair of them spend the rest of their lives pretending to be borderline content in this broken marriage. Merry Christmas, yo!
The moral of the story: You’re old and a woman, so cling on to whatever scraps of a tattered relationship you can.
Colin Firth (Jamie)
This is the only truly romantic thread in the entire movie. Even so, upon Firth’s arrival in Portugal, the movie still finds the energy to throw in a couple more fat jokes at the expense of Aurelia’s sister. Because how could anyone find a fat girl attractive, right?
The moral of the story: Britain is better off in the EU and everyone should learn a second language.
And there you have it: the most repellent festive film ever made. Make this holiday season special by vowing to never watch it again.