Love Actually is one of my favourite Christmas films. It’s not quite my absolute favourite because I can’t settle on just one (throw in Home Alone, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Santa Claus: The Movie and Die Hard and I still can’t decide!).
It holds a huge amount of memories for me despite its relative youthfulness (sort of – it’s 8 years old now).
When it first came out in 2003, I was a first year at University. It was a crap academic year. I’d coped stupidly badly after a break up (the kind of thing in hindsight that you realise just how young you were at the time but it felt so, so important at the time!) but really the main problem was the plethora of upheaval I had going on at the time plus some less than helpful new housemates.
I went to see Love Actually with my Mum having got some free tickets from a copy of Heat magazine. It was a great couple of hours of mother/daughter bonding. Due to the whole silly break up thing, I remember mostly emphathising with the Andrew Lincoln character and the whole unrequited love thing. Even more so given that I was on a bit of a Dido kick at the time and one of her songs featured during a relevant scene. Yeah, I was so cool in 2003.
I got out of that crappy phase of life and Love Actually turned into a good, happy Christmas film. One that me and my Dad would always persuade my Mum to watch every Christmas even though we all knew the script.
Along the way, I reacted differently to the film each time. As I grew up, I appreciated the complexities of life. Not in terms of being able to relate directly but to see the different shades of life. It’s become an interesting benchmark of how I’ve changed as I’ve grown up a bit more.
In all Richard Curtis films, there’s the sad, poignant bit. Much in life really. Now, I watch it and get the terrible sadness of Liam Neeson’s situation in the film (and tragically in life now too). That’s not to say that Love Actually does that part well. From what I’ve seen and know of how my Mum feels, it’s quite ridiculous to think that his character would be happy to date Claudia Schiffer a month after the death of his wife (even if it is Claudia Schiffer!), but this is a film. Things have to be wrapped up relatively fast. Plus it is Christmas. No one wants to spend time with the grieving at Christmas. In a film or otherwise. Blunt but true.
It’s weird seeing a film so regularly yet seeing it from a different perspective each time. I’m not saying Love Actually is an amazing film for everyone but it has its place in life for me. My Mum and I couldn’t watch it for the first couple of years after my Dad died. We watched it last year but didn’t really enjoy it. I watched it on my own today and quite enjoyed it. It looks likely I’ll be watching it a second time, with my Mum this time, soon.
It still feels odd to do so though. Like a lot of things in life, especially around Christmas.