RARELY HAS THE POWER OF CINEMA BEEN FELT BY SO MANY, IN SUCH OPPOSING WAYS… “Love Actually dulls the critical senses, making those susceptible to its hallucinogenic powers think they’ve seen a funny, warm-hearted, romantic film about the many complex manifestations of love. Colourful Narcotics. A perfect description of a bafflingly popular film.” By any reasonable measurement, Love Actually is a bad movie. There are plenty of bad movies out there, but what gets under Gary Raymond’s skin here is that it seems to have tricked so many people into thinking it’s a good movie. In this hilarious, scene-by-scene analysis of the Christmas monolith that is Love Actually, Gary Raymond takes us through a suffocating quagmire of badly drawn characters, nonsensical plotlines, and open bigotry, to a climax of ill-conceived schmaltz. How Love Actually Ruined Christmas (or Colourful Narcotics) is the definitive case against a terrible movie. with a foreword by Lisa Smithstead
So I was “a little” (very) worried about reading this book as I have to admit that I’m one of those people who absolutely love Love Actually and just have to watch it every Christmas. My favourite line is “Eight is a lot of legs David” and I just adore waiting for it to appear every time I watch. But this book was a revelation for me as it did give me lots to think about what really lies beneath the festive surface of this British romcom.
Taking the film scene by scene, the author looks at why the film has become such a national treasure despite some of the worst “fat shaming” and politically incorrect acting seen in such a popular film! Colin especially comes in for quite a lot of stick with his “lovable sex pest” character who is every teenage boys hero! And why oh why did no one call social services about the way Liam Neesons character spoke to his stepson Sam? I have to say that there were some major safeguarding issues there! And an unrequited love that I hadn’t ever noticed before!
For me, it was the authors notes that I found the most interesting and humorous. They often contained anecdotal information that many fans of the film won’t know, such as deleted scenes and ideas that didn’t quite make the cut as well as some very funny observations. Love Actually is one of those films that appeals to pretty much everyone (my husband is very happy to have it on over the festive season!) and I’ve never really questioned that appeal before! But as my other favourite Christmas film is Die Hard I suppose I just assumed that I like films that have an edge and aren’t too “sweet and sugary”!
I really enjoyed reading this book and it certainly hasn’t put me off watching the film again this Christmas (and possibly more than once!). That appeal always seems to transcend any expectations I have and I can never see myself getting bored of it to be honest! I struggle myself to explain why this film has taken its place on our favourite Christmas film list but I for now I will just go with the flow and take it for what it is-a charming little double edged sword with some brilliant acting, some questionable dialogue and a Christmas Angel who’s presence now makes perfect sense!
So whether you’re a fan of the movie or hate it with a passion there is something for all of you in this book! A great observation piece that deserves to be widely read this festive season.
Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor, and broadcaster. He is presenter of The Review Show for BBC Radio Wales and editor of Wales Arts Review. He is a regular writer on film, music, literature, and theatre, and can often be heard on BBC Radio 3 and 4 as an arts commentator and reviewer. His novels include For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015), The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018), and the upcoming Angels of Cairo (Parthian, 2021).