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24th Dec 2022

5 things in Love Actually that baffle me to this day

Sarah McKenna Barry

Don’t get me started on that ruddy school play.

OK, let’s get into it.

While Love Actually is a hugely popular film, there are a good few dissenters among us. The Christmas movie, which came out in 2003, has been subject to a decent amount of very valid criticism in recent years. Viewers have pointed out its glaring lack of diversity, while others have highlighted the unnecessary body-shaming that’s peppered throughout its script.

Having said that, the film hasn’t budged from its pedestal in the Christmas movies hall of fame. In fact, I’m one of those people that sits down to watch Love Actually every December. I’m not ashamed to admit that.

I will say though, that with each viewing, some of the film’s plot holes become either more baffling or harder to ignore.

With that being said, here are 5 things about Love Actually that confuse me to this day.

1. The logistics of the school concert

As someone who taught drama to children for almost 10 years, I find the whole set-up of the children’s Christmas show deeply unsettling. According to Natalie’s mum, the concert is a joint effort of all the schools in the area, and it takes place on Christmas Eve. What principal would agree to this? It just would not happen.

For starters, to ensure that each child gets a decent amount of stage time, the performance would have to be extremely long. Secondly, arranging for a play to take place the DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS is so risky. As an organiser, you’re assuming every child and their family will be free on that day, and I can guarantee you that most parents would rather prioritise family time over a massive, ridiculously long children’s play, in which their child will grace the stage for max three minutes. Absurd.

2. The vague political backdrop

The film sees Hugh Grant play an affable Prime Minister, who somehow seems to be adored by every person in the UK. His political party is never clarified, nor are any of his stances. Perhaps in an effort to appeal to every Briton, the film strives to be completely apolitical, which, while tactical, leads to scenes in which politics are talked about in the most nondescript possible terms.

The most detail we are ever given about any policy in the film is that some of them are “bad”. We do know that he must improve UK/US relations in some high stake negotiations, though it’s never clear what the stakes are. In a rousing press conference, David tells reporters and the US president that his country refuses to be “bullied”. By what exactly, we shall never know.

3. Jamie and Aurélia getting married after having ONE conversation

Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurélia’s (Lúcia Moniz) storyline tends to be a point of contention for many viewers, and it’s understandable. Some feel that the relationship between the pair is based, not only on a lack of communication but on an unfair power dynamic. Jamie is, after all, her employer for the majority of their time together.

This pairing reaches a peek bafflement at the film’s conclusion. After going their separate ways and learning the basics of each other’s language, Jamie shows up uninvited at Aurélia’s workplace and proposes to her. Much to the delight of the entire village, she says yes, and the pair start a new life together in England.

Now I’m not denying the chemistry between these two, but why jump straight to marriage? What’s the rush? Why not date a little, and maybe help each other out with their language-learning journey? Perhaps a nice weekend away together if they’re ready? Just seems very hasty if you ask me.

4. The fact that Keira Knightley plays a fully grown woman at just 18

Keira Knightley was only a whipper-snapper when she played Juliet, a freshly married woman living in a glam apartment in London, and it blows my mind. It’s no secret that she was actually only five years older than Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who plays the adorable Sam. Hard to get my head around that one to this day.

5. The Joni Mitchell CD

One of the most devastating scenes of the entire film sees Harry (Alan Rickman) gift his wife Karen (Emma Thompson) a Joni Mitchell album, while he splashes out on an expensive necklace for his secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch).

While no one could deny Thompson’s heart-breaking performance of a woman dealing with betrayal, it does beg the question; why did he bother getting her a Joni Mitchell CD at all? Karen claims to be a huge fan of the singer-songwriter, and Harry knows this. Surely she has every album already? Perhaps this just further shows off Harry’s incompetence as a husband, but in any case, this one detail still bothers me.