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
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!”
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