In Love with ‘Love, Actually’

How 10 Years of Fear Have Bruised our Hearts

Love Actually PerfectBecause I forgot to take the bacon out of the freezer Christmas Eve, I got the chance to see “Love, Actually” again this year.

It just so happens that this is the 10th anniversary of the film, and for some reason that means that people are thinking/talking about it and revisiting their dusty opinions of the film. I have not read any of these articles as I already have an opinion: I loved this quirky film so much that I actually bought the DVD. I reserve this honor for very few grown-up films. I think I own “Lost in Translation” and the boxed set of the “The Muppet Show.”

(It’s a very distinctive list.)

I have a special relationship with Hugh Grant that has to do with the reason behind our moving to London. When we started formulating our plan to move to London, I had no idea what British people were like. I literally assumed they were all like Hugh Grant.

It turns out this so fully idiotic: of course ALL Brits are not like Hugh Grant; hell, not even all of his characters are exactly the same (well almost). However, it weirdly turned out that in many ways, most Brits are EXACTLY like Hugh Grant (a subject to be picked apart more fully in another blog post) but which, as a result, for me creates a transferral of deep longing whenever I see Hugh Grant not for himself (too hang-dog, really,) but for all of my friends, and the life I had there.

And also I have deep abiding lust for Colin Firth, and major theatre-geek yearning for Alan Rickman. So as a casting trifecta, this film is hitting the mark already for me. And we haven’t even mentioned the perfect martini of Emma, Laura Linney, and Keira.

But what is great about this film isn’t about casting. That is the icing.

What makes this film wonderful, for me, is it’s true commitment to the romantic genre, just as the genre was gasping its last breath.

Love in a 9/11 Age

Think about it. Since when did you see such a really well-written and acted romantic comedy? Remember the days of “When Harry Met Sally” and “Thelma and Louise?” Remember the days of weepers like “Tootsie” and “Steel Magnolias” and “Terms of Endearment?” Beautifully acted dramedies, with fantastic actors and lovely love stories?

What happened?

Did the planes hit the towers and also our hearts? What happened to love?

Since I’ve been married, the only films (and TV) Colin and I agree on lean more toward his end of the spectrum of preference. I watched “Winter’s Bone” on Netflix one night by myself … he happened to be having a meeting at home at the time and caught some of it. And I admit that I love shows like Justified and The Sopranos. I love the acting and the writing and the relationships.

Yet I suggested to him that we watch “Orange is the New Black” together — same kind of show: great writing and acting. Gritty subject matter. It was declined because the, I guess, the actors had vaginas.

Romances are the vaginas of the film world. In the last 10 years, I feel like we’ve lost our romance. In the 1990s, when everybody was making money and the banks we flush, it was fine to swim in a bath of romantic nonsense.

But NOW the masters of the world need to make sure that there’s more “awareness.” More vigilance. More security.

Funny. I thought security was something like what a mother gave her baby, when she wrapped her in her loving arms.

The opening words of “Love, Actually” directly speak to the devastation of the Twin Towers. Not to the people and loss of life, but to LOVE.

Still 10 years later, I don’t think we want to trust enough to hear the truth.

The truth is, yes, you can be hurt, and love again.

The truth is, you are beautiful.

Someone looks at you with so much love all they think is: you are perfect.

And yes, there is something worse than the “total agony of being in love.”

It’s cynicism and fear and believing I am exposed, somehow.

So yes, I love love, actually. And I so loved my British time. It hurt like hell to be so far away from home and to be so lonely and to lose a baby and lose what felt like all the chances I had.

But it’s all just love, actually, in some other shape we don’t yet recognize.

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Elizabeth Howard

Elizabeth writes literary non-fiction, haiku, cultural rants, and Demand Poetry in order to forward the cause of beautiful writing. She teaches and speaks about the rhetorical impact of beautiful writing. A recent transplant to Connecticut, she calls London, Kansas City, and Iowa home.

 

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