Why Love Actually is a Good Christmas Movie

While Christmas happened a few days ago now, I wanted to write a quick note on Love Actually. You may or may not have heard of this Christmas movie. It was first released about a decade ago, but many people seem to want to watch it when Christmas rolls around. I didn’t realize just how popular this movie had become at Christmas time (my wife and I have watched it just about every Christmas since we’ve been married) until I started seeing notes about the movie in my twitter feed.

That is, there were some folks who were vehemently against Love Actually as a “good” romantic comedy. In fact, one person wrote:

The fundamental problem with Love Actually is that it presents romance as either absurdly easy—something that strikes you like a thunderclap and requires only a single grand gesture in order to be fulfilled—or all but impossible. Notably absent is the idea that love might ever be worth a little sustained effort: some mutual exploration and discovery, a bit of care and nurture, maybe even the overcoming of an obstacle or two. Indeed, it’s hard to shake the sense that what is “classic” about Love Actually is not that it shows us anything about how people fall in love, but that it so conspicuously declines even to try.

But there are also those folks who feel quite the opposite. That is, they think the film is actually quite good:

More than anything, Love Actually is a movie by people who get it. That get that the holidays are about love and loss and memories. It’s about new beginnings and it’s about endings. It’s about family and second chances, and sometimes it’s about the same old, same old. It’s love, in its many, many forms, lighting the way through the coldest season.

Then, there are those who are trying to figure out whether the movie should actually qualify as a classic (over 80% of voters on this CBC website think that it should be).

I can stipulate that Love Actually might not be promoting the “best” version of love, but I would say that with a level of maturity and understanding that some of what’s being portrayed is actually tongue-in-cheek (do all British men really think that their accent is enough to get American women to sleep with them?) the movie can be quite heartwarming. Putting that aside for a moment, one of the best aspects of the movie for me is the message of truth-telling. On a number of occasions we hear the characters saying something to the effect of, “It’s Christmas, so I wanted to tell the truth,” (or “tell you,” or “check with you,”).

To me, this is great. I enjoy that there’s this subtle albeit noticeable message that it’s important that we tell the truth with people we care about and/or are interested in spending time with on a regular basis. So, if you do decide to watch Love Actually at Christmas time or any time for that matter, maybe pay less attention to the “fake love” parts and pay more attention to the “truth” parts.

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