Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dark Romance ~ Love, Actually

::OBLIGATORY SPOILER ALERT: DON'T READ THIS IF YOU'VE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE, BUT PLAN TO. OK??? SHEESH...::

There, my duty's done. If you read on, don't bitch at me about the spoilers.

I know, I know—Love, Actually is such a fun flick that the words "dark romance" don't exactly leap to mind when you think about it. But beneath the smiles and hugs lies gloom, in rather a few of the tales told by this freakin' fantastic ensemble. Today, I'll examine three of them. (DISCLAIMER: I adore this movie. That doesn't mean I don't see the darkness in it, or that I can't have any problems with how some stuff went down.)

The dark romance of:

Sam (played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster) ~ Sam and his stepfather Daniel have lost the woman who brought them together, Joanna (who was mother to the former and wife to the latter). I choked up with every scene of theirs, maybe 'cause I'm a mother and I can't bear the idea of a child losing his mom. Anyway, poor Joanna passes away and her fellas have to carry on, somehow. Daniel's clearly deeply affected by his loss. Sam seems to be equally so, so much that Daniel begins to worry. Thinking the boy's in really bad shape, Daniel confronts him, only to discover that, yeah, Sam misses his mum, but it's a new gal who's got him all down about life. OK, I understand; he's a kid and he needs some comfort and this chickie-poo is really cute. I geddit. But it's kind of cold, in my opinion, that it's his as-yet-unrequited-interest in a girl that's got him being all antisocial and depressed and whatnot. I mean, sure, I think it's adorbz when Sam utters that famous line, "Let's go get the shit kicked out of us by love." I heart that line. I want him to get the girl, for shizzle. I just think they should've showed us more of his mourning for his mum. Anyway, as has been said, there's no cure for an old love like a new love. That's a bit harsh, but it's Christmas, and at Christmas, you tell the truth. Which brings me to the dark romance of...

Mark (played by Andrew Lincoln) ~ You may best know him as Rick, the noble leader of a group of zombie apocalypse survivors in AMC series, The Walking Dead. But in Love, Actually, his character was hopelessly in love with his BFF's new bride. He plays things like he just doesn't care for her as a person, but the viewer kinda knows there's something behind his behavior which points to the very opposite. Then the bride, Juliet, discovers his secret tendre for her and buggers off, all upset and shocked-like. What follows that is the super-sweet declaration of love Mark makes to her via placards, acknowledging only what his feelings have been and without any expectation of reciprocation. Bless him. That was incredibly brave of him, and perhaps, having unburdened himself, he can rest easy, even though nothing comes of it. Of course, burdens don't just disappear. Who's carrying it now, if not Juliet? What we don't get to see is how she lives with this knowledge, after her initial response of a chaste kiss to Mark's cheek. How are things between the three of them afterward? Does Mark stop aching for love of her? Can she simply forget what he's divulged? Does she feel any sort of guilt or responsibility for his feelings for her? Is there, perhaps, some reason unknown to the viewer why she should? Does she ever tell her husband, Peter, what went down? Folks, it is my feeling that, sometimes, Love keeps shit to itself, for the sake of the loved one(s), you know? And finally, what (to me) is one of the darkest romances of the bunch...

Harry (played by Alan Rickman) ~ Oh, Harry. What were ya thinkin', ya goofball? So, Harry's a Big Boss and a married man with kids, all of whom he loves. Then his new, skanky secretary messes with him, coming onto him and hinting very heavily about what she wants from him for Christmas. (And it ain't cookies 'n' milk, neither.) I think Harry's sort of swayed by her interest in him, not so much pursuing as being pursued.  But it seems he's beginning to return her interest when he goes to buy her a pretty bauble (the wrapping of which was a charmingly funny scene, brilliantly executed by one of my faves, Mr. Bean. Uh, I mean, Rowan Atkinson.) Unfortunately, Harry's missus, who's had an uneasy feeling about him, busts him and it all goes to hell. As far as we know, Harry never even slept with the skanky secretary, but the damage to his marriage has been done. Now, whomever authored the Wikipedia page for this movie says that, during the epilogue scene, when folks coming off a plane are being greeted by their loved ones, Harry and wife Karen reunite in such a way as to suggest they've gotten over their "relationship crisis." I say that whomever wrote that must've been high. Their intimacy sacrificed on the altar of lust, a deep freeze separates them. Karen can barely look at Harry and, from Harry's expression, he's well aware that he really screwed the pooch (without even having actually screwed her). And it's not just Karen whom he's hurt, but also his children, as there's no way in hell they can't pick up the weirdness between their parents. I'd love to know whether Harry and Karen were ever able to heal the wound in their marriage. I hope so.

What do y'all think? Was Sam maybe just a wee bit too ready to move on? Should Mark have kept his yap shut? Did Harry and Karen sort things out? Inquiring minds, etc., etc.


26 comments:

  1. Have not seen the movie, but since my Ricks makes a cake of himself for the always horrible, completely talentless Keira Knightley, I don't want to see it. ;)

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    1. LOL.

      Also; majorly dig that you wrote, "...makes a cake of himself." You must dig the Regencies romances like I do, I'm guessing. :-D

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    2. I do dig the Regencies! Love that period of time and the social mores, etc.

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  2. I know exactly what you mean. I adore Love, Actually. It's now one of my Christmas traditions to watch it.

    But if you watch the cut scenes with the director's commentary on, you'll know there's actually a lot of the movie they cut out, especially with Sam's story, where he's working through his grief. The movie was almost 3 hours long, which they said was too long for a romantic move.

    Personally, I think it could have gone much longer, but siigh. Maybe one day they'll release the full version. :-D

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    1. Thanks so much for telling me that! I'd no idea there was that much more available on the DVD. I see a gift to self in the near future... :-)

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  3. First of all, love this post! Especially your assessment of Rick... er, I mean, Mark. Excellent points, my dear!

    Maroon 5 has some music in this movie. I remember hearing Adam's voice and thought this band is good. Then, I saw a pic of him a few weeks later and thought... holy hell, he is hot. LOL


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    1. Don't get me wrong; I thought his declaration was suuuuuper romantical - but these things aren't without consequences.

      I didn't remember about Maroon 5 being on the soundtrack...will keep an ear out for his swoony vocals when I watch my soon-to-be-purchased Love, Actually DVD! :-)

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  4. This is one of my favorites too. I think it's definitely dark. The darkness comes through for me the most when Laura Linney's character can't have a normal relationship - not even a quicky - because her brother has issues and needs her. She can't have normal romantic love because she truly loves her brother.

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    1. That was another storyline that was waaaaaay depressing. At the end of it, the first time I saw it, I didn't agree with her sort of defeated attitude about dating. Though I'll admit, I also didn't date while my kid was at home. Sighs.

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  5. Haven't seen this movie. Love the way you've written your analysis. It shows how much detail you catch on things which is why you write so well. :)

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    1. Aw, thanks, Doll! Now, if only I could put that kind of focus into writing... ;-)

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  6. Interesting analysis - it's a long time since I saw this movie - I actually thought it was a bit sucky, the Hugh Grant Prime Minister person and the clearner who was Tiffany from EastEnders, but Alan Rickman is certainly a God whatever he's in and Rickman and the Skank (lol) was certainly one of the more interesting story lines :)

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    1. Ah, David. I regret that you're bound to think less of me when I tell you this, but I found the Grant/McCutcheon romance adorable. :-)

      Rickman = a god, I agree. And that skank-ho was the worst sort of predator. I've seen this happen in reality; someone unhappy in a marriage, an outsider who provides whatever that unhappy person needs, temporarily, and then BAM! You can't see that outsider for dust. I could respect, I suppose, a married man and some chickie falling in love, but Skank-a-rina wasn't in love, she was in heat. Yuck. (All of these comments are, of course, about the character, not the actress who portrayed her. Just sayin'.)

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    2. You have to admit Hugh Grant's dance scene was good! :-)

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  7. you um found the Grant/McCutcheon romance adorable Mina - probably my eyesight is fading late at night. Otherwise nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo - I remember the Skank as being sort of dangerously alluring, like clearly bad news but ho hum ish but it's a long time ago.

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    1. We'll have to call a draw on this Grant/Skank business. Chalk it up to chromosomal differences. ;-)

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  8. My favorite holiday movie! I'll just say that I can see the point of letting Sam focus on his new girl as a way for the movie maker to balance out the sadder parts. Knowing now that they did allow him to be grief-stricken more in the cut scenes does make that less heinous. As many times as I watch it, I always secretly hope that my copy of the movie has miraculously changed over the course of the year, and Laura Linney and that fabulous man finally get together because she throws that frickin' cell phone across the room. That is the least satisfying part of the movie for me. But then, I'm one of those supreme optimists who'd like to think that everything works out in the end. And I love the Grant/McCutcheon romance! Probably mostly because I love Hugh Grant. Her character was pretty well-written and done too. I won't even discuss what Alan Rickman did to that nice Emma Thompson.

    Great post! I just watched this over the weekend, btw.

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    1. I'm with you on the Linney romance. PS: did you know that her love interest in the movie's the same guy who thought he was a god/led the Persians in the movie 300?

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  9. I love this film too, in fact I was going to watch it this afternoon until I realised the kids have hidden the remote control. I completely agree about Sam not mourning more - I always thought that was odd. I like to think Harry and Karen work things out eventually, but with a lot of work on his part. I love that scene with the placards - when he walks away from her, he says 'enough' and I like that it was the perfect end of his crush. I think Keira Knightly gets over it because she's so much in love with her husband.

    For my part, the most poignant relationship is the woman with the autistic (?) brother who gives up her perfect love for him. That's so sad because I don't see how she'll ever be able to move on.

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    1. Schizophrenic. :-P

      Sorry, watched this movie WAY too many times. Our dvd has, in fact, started to disintegrate.

      But yeah, I actually think hers and Mark's scenes are the saddest.

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    2. Linney's case is, perhaps, the most admirable expression of it, with the major self-sacrifice involved. However, as I noted above, I still don't 100% agree with the choice she made. I feel like she gave up too soon.

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  10. So Karen sent Harry to the doghouse for giving his secretary a bauble? The woman is insane. Not even female pelicans are that jealous.

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    1. Nope, because he hid the bauble and gave it to his secretary in secret. And then the wife found out.

      If a guy wants to buy his secretary a bauble, then sure, but don't be all secretive about it. It just spells trouble.

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    2. The wife was already concerned that something wasn't right. When she realized the necklace wasn't for her, she had reasonable cause to suspect some kind of infidelity. When she confronted him with it, he acknowledged his guilt. She was justified in her suspicions.

      And ditto what Misha said; innocent behavior doesn't need to be covered up from one's spouse (unless, I suppose, the necklace really had been intended for his wife and he wanted to surprise her).

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  11. I didn't realise that this film would cause so much debate! It's fantastic too by the way, I just wanted to make my position clear from the off. Richard Curtis ain't no Arthur Miller, but he gives good feelgood/popcorn movie and no mistake.

    Now, I'm glad you are going to get the DVD of the movie as there is a whole storyline that was shot for the movie that didn't make it in to the theatrical release at all. It's a story about the headmaster of the school and her partner. It also features a great british actress called Frances De La Tour and is heartbreaking. There is also a load of other stuff on there too which is cracking.

    When Emma Thompson's character confronts Alan Rickman with his infidelity in a public place whilst wishing people a merry christmas and generally being amazing, the acting between them both is majestic. Also, the scene in their bedroom on her own when she finds out first of all. A real treat and it makes me cry. Every time.

    Now to Laura Linney. There is something about her which makes me go all funny. Gigantic crush on her I have. Leave the country for her I would. See? Makes me talk like Yoda.

    W.

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    1. OMG, there's another storyline???!?!??!?!! GAH, how have I lived without knowing that????!?!?! Glad I told my kid I wanted the DVD for my birthday! :-)

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