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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bmag Dec 17th 2013 - Love Actually

Breaking news. Donna Weeks has finally seen Love Actually! Who is Donna Weeks and why is this such a big deal? Donna is a political scientist. Last year, I was interviewing her about the Japanese election and stumbled on the fact she had never seen Love Actually. Was Donna the last person on earth not to have seen the classic Richard Curtis romantic comedy? I ribbed her about it on air and this led to someone buying her a copy on DVD, yet still Donna held out. Until last weekend when it was shown on the big screen at GOMA.

Donna’s verdict shortly. But first I’m going to put my (Christmas) cards on the table. Love Actually may well be the most divisive Christmas film ever made but I adore it. I could enchant/bore you for as long as the movie itself (and at 135 minutes, it is reasonably long) with all my favourite moments. And it all starts with that opening scene at an airport arrivals hall. Who hasn’t sat waiting for a family member to clear customs, happily observing all the kisses and hugs going on around them? Then there’s the romantic fumbling between the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) and new staffer Natalie (Martine McCutcheon). Who wouldn’t have sent her to work elsewhere to avoid the awkwardness, only to chase her down and get her back? And how touching is Mark (Andrew Lincoln) and his undying love for the recently-married Juliet (Kiera Knightly)? First she discovers all the close-ups of her after Mark shoots the wedding video. Then, in a real tissue-grabber, Mark stands at her front door silently confessing his feelings (and letting her go) with a series of hand-written signs.

 There is so much in the film we can all relate to. And yet there are those who despise it. Among my friends and colleagues, captain of the negatives is radio producer Amanda Dell: “I just don't get it. I get none of the `awww’ factor that seems to drive the passionate love of this film. It leaves me cold and quite bored. Maybe it's just too twee for me.”

Jose Ferrara agrees: “Appalling. Makes me squirm if I ever see as much as an ad. Hugh Grant is a ham. He and Martine McCutcheon have zero chemistry. Clunky script supposed to be romcom but just nauseatingly saccharine and not very funny to boot.” And there’s no doubting how Stephanie Beames feels: “Bleugh!!! One of the all-time most gag-worthy, formulaic, predictable movies.”

Captain of the supporters is ABC family affairs reporter Susan Hetherington, who watches it every year without fail: “The 24 December is the day of viewing in our house. Others call it Christmas Eve. I call it Love Actually Day!” Siding with Susan is Sally Piracha: “It has Colin Firth. Aside from that, one of my favourite movies of all time. I can watch it anywhere, anytime, with anyone. One of the best casts ever assembled, top soundtrack, and it has Colin Firth in another lake.” Jo Stone says it’s a great film: “So many different interpretations of love in the world! And Hugh Grant dancing…gold!”

And from Adam Hay, who tied the knot just last week: “It’s my wife's favourite film. It has been watched every Christmas at both families’ houses since it was released. It is a beautiful film and shows how love actually is. Sometimes easy but most of the time unpredictable. Love it. Destined to watch it forever now!”

So, what did Donna Weeks think? After watching the film for the first time ever, Donna tweeted: “I’m with Amanda Dell…sorry.” She later emailed me: “Good ensemble, cute kid role, OK movie, glad I’ve seen it, pressure off. But really, as if the British Prime Minister would ever speak to the President of the United States like that! If only things happened in real life like they do in the movies, the world would be pretty cool, actually!” “OK movie”? Just OK?! Donna, I think you need to unwrap that DVD and watch it again straight away! From the Howsons to you and yours, have a safe and joyous Christmas. May your holidays be filled with love (and hopefully Love Actually)!

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