Every year, my wife and I watch Love Actually, one of our favourite movies1. Every year, we spend more time asking questions about the characters and presenting our theories than we do actually watching the movie. I’m pretty sure this is curse of the anthology movie: a wide cast of recognizable stars playing characters of whose lives we only get a brief glimpse, each getting a fraction of the screen typically allotted to a protagonist. There’s so little pre-existing evidence that we end up grasping at straws. But this cuts both ways in that no theory is too outlandish because we can never be proven wrong.
Here are five of what I think are some of the more compelling questions along with my wild and in-no-way substantiated theories.
What Does Alan Rickman Do for a Living?
I’m sure this is mentioned somewhere and/or could be discovered online. But I’m going to wait to check on that before giving my answer. Harry (played by the late, great Alan Rickman), is the boss of some place that seems vaguely hip and is seduced by what I assume is an alien who took human form and learned to seduce men by watching Bugs Bunny seduce Elmer Fudd. She is the absolute worst and if Emma Thompson ever discovered that’s he was willing to throw his marriage away over her, no court in the realm would convict her for straight up murdering him. More on this later.
My guess is his company is somehow involved in print media. I’m basing this on two things 1) Karl seems like an artist and at one point brings two drawing tubes home with him but I don’t see a drafting table in his office 2) There’s a big ass poster for some unnamed charity sitting behind Laura Linney. This is all very thin, I know, but these are the only things I could point to to substantiate my wild guess.
Let’s see how I did: Wikipedia says he is the managing director of a design agency. An inaccurate guess, but not wildly so.
Coming out of this, after his wife graciously takes him back, Harry is in a highly actionable position. Mia, the aforementioned alien seductress, got her “gold necklace”. What can he do? There’s no way his wife would tolerate her working there and if he dismisses her she can sue the pants off him2. He spends a good chunk of his screen time pestering his employee about her sex life, not a good sign for him not being a lech.
Even if he somehow navigates through this minefield without the aid of Rowan Atkinson and his fucking holly, the future has not been kind to design firms who didn’t make a paradigm shift to online. Seeing as how he didn’t go online shopping for his side piece’s gift, I doubt he’d be quick to make that adjustment. As he doesn’t own the company, he’d be out on his ass right quick. What I’m saying is that Harry’s future looks about as bleak as a Joni Mitchell album.
Why is Colin Randomly Giving People Food at Harry’s Office?
Colin, who by now is an Uber driver due to his apparent buy in to the gig economy, lives a life of optimistic ignorance, believing he can pull hot women in Wisconsin despite his fundamental lack of charm or wit3. But that doesn’t explain his bizarre behaviour when he first appears in Harry’s office.
He’s just some rando throwing food around out of a basket like a less flamboyant Rip Taylor4. Who even let him into the office? An actual line from this chicanery: “Try my lovely nuts.” I’m telling you, the HR rep for this office must be giving sexual harassment talks every fortnight. I understand that in some offices, vendors may deliver food to people’s desks, but I suspect that these items would be specifically ordered. Not just snacks carelessly flung by an irrepressible man-child.
My guess is that he was sent to the office with a list of who ordered what but that the list flew out of his hands when he stopped to gawk at somebody setting up a Christmas display in a shop window so he just hoped for the best and plowed forward. I also guess that this isn’t the first time something like that happened, such is his goofusity.
Everything that’s Going on with Jamie
Jamie. Cuckold. Semi-successful-yet-insecure novelist. Not a particularly cunning linguist. Rocker of sweaters. There’s so damned much going on with Jaime that I couldn’t narrow it down. You know what that means… LIGHTNING ROUND!
- Does Jamie’s girlfriend want to be caught? She faked being sick to get out of a wedding, an event known for having a fluid schedule and occurring mere blocks from her marital bed, to boff his brother and loudly proclaimed as much in a townhome in which she likely could have heard the front door open. Yes, this is the work of a sociopath.
- Why does Jamie need a full-time housekeeper? To protect him from his former sociopathic girlfriend who would just as soon throw him in the lake to be devoured by eels as spend a few weeks with him tapping away at his Smith Corona.
- Why doesn’t Jamie learn a few phrases in Portuguese prior to the third act? A) He probably doesn’t use the internet as evidenced by his reliance on a typewriter and B) He spends so much time buying gifts for his bloody family that he was never able to pop into a bookshop.
- This one’s courtesy of my wife: what man would wear a t-shirt, dress shirt, and a sweater while on vacation? Colin Motherfucking Firth. That’s who. Dude probably sleeps in a cable-knit onesie.
- Why did Uncle Jamie show up for family Christmas then bugger off immediately prompting the best line in the movie:
Because look who that is under the I. That’s right, the ruiner of Jamie’s proverbial marital bed and fellow bad son: brother Big Boy! Only a true arse would go to a family event within weeks of sleeping with his brother’s girlfriend. Jamie was right to leave, regardless if he had to do what a man has to do (i.e., go after a Portuguese housekeeper with whom he has never had a meaningful conversation and whose location he only finds out when he bribes the woman who rents him his vacation home).
Why Can’t Juliet Catch a Break with Her Wedding Vendors?
Back to Colin, we next see him trying to get off with who he thinks is a wedding guest but turns out to be the caterer. WHY IS SHE NOT IN THE KITCHEN DURING THE RECEPTION?!? The next shot is of a bustling kitchen which is pumping out food that resembles a baby’s finger left and right. I’m not familiar with the British culinary scene, but you would think she would be better served actually being present during crunch time than standing awkwardly against a wall during cocktail time.
Anyway, his got me thinking that each of the services Juliet procures for her wedding turn out to be absolute crap:
- A clothier who outfitted a groom and his best man thusly:
I have little to no fashion sense, so I don’t know if this is valid concern, but what’s going on here?
- Shitty, checked-out caterer – see above;
- A venue that would employ Colin as part of the wait staff – within two scenes worth of work he hits on a guest, samples the food, spits out said food to wipe it on his platter, and wraps it up by sitting down with his buddy to discuss his plans for a sex holiday. Not stellar;
- Arguably Britain’s worst DJ – dude wears a Motörhead5 t-shirt and thinks Puppy Love is the apex love song. Words escape me; and
- A videographer who tints all her footage blue – let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they were also hired to shoot the wedding of some smurf enthusiasts and got the dates mixed up. It happens, though probably only to people who would hire a budget videographer who is not above filming a smurf enthusiast’s wedding.
I suspect this wedding was thrown together on the quick, possibly because Mark is about to have another rival for Juliet’s affection6. I get that a lot of things can go wrong at wedding, but whiffing on five pretty fundamental components has to defy the odds. They’re lucky the boat they take to leave the reception didn’t sink.
What Did Juliet Do When Left Alone in Mark’s Apartment?
Let me set the scene here. Juliet (played by Keira Knightley in a weird hat) visits Mark (played by Rick from The Walking Dead) the best friend of her new husband (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor who may have the most distinguished career of anybody in the cast at the end of the day but has very little to do here). She thinks he hates her but is also led to believe that Mark has some shaky footage of her wedding7 . Despite his subterfuge and protests, she pops the tape into the VCR8 and watches a tightly edited video of uncomfortable close-ups of her candid moments. It’s clear that Mark is in love with her, masking his feelings with coldness. Then he runs away and over-dramatically zips up his jumper.
At this point, Juliet is left in his flat, gobsmacked. Given that later on she feels comfortable enough with him, even after he ripped off Bob Dylan, to let him tag along as a third wheel, what’s her next move9?
I honestly can’t tell if Juliet is naïve, charmed by Mark’s beta boy aloofness, or just wants to sow the seeds of chaos so that her husband has to choose between her and his best friend. Maybe it’s because I’m cynical, but I’m hoping for the last option. It’s also the best way for me to rationalize why she spends so much time with a bare midriff. So, Mark leaves after she pretends that she doesn’t know he’s in love with her. She takes a beat to make sure he isn’t going to run back and do something awkward like profess his love to her using hand written signs, then she peruses his bookcase for any embarrassing intel like a book on stealing your friend’s wife or a notebook with Juliet and Peter written on it surrounded by a heart. Finding nothing, hopefully , she pockets the tape and leaves. She then entices him just enough so that he lets his guard down and becomes close to her before revealing to her husband that Mark is in love with her. When he protests she can play the damning video and give him her ultimatum. She’s diabolical.
- Because I not so secretly love rom-coms. ↩
- Serious question, did this actually happen? Like, did some guy get sued so hard that the plaintiff got his pants? But they didn’t also want his shirt? Or the judge, perhaps not understanding the hierarchy of clothes, decided that the shirt was too much of an award? ↩
- OK, yes, he was right. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a ridiculous notion. ↩
- He was a comedian and confetti enthusiast, ask your parents. ↩
- Learning the character code for the umlaut (0214 btw) probably pushed some useful knowledge or a cherished memory out of my cluttered mind. The things I do for my reader. ↩
- Possibly corroborated by her pathological need to bare her midriff before she begins to show. ↩
- Let’s face it, it’s hard to shoot one-handed. ↩
- Typing that sentence made me feel really old. God, I saw this in the theatre. That sentence will make me feel even older if I ever come back to read this and Google has figured out how to beam movies directly into our brains. ↩
- By the way, scenes of this ilk are some of the biggest lies movies tell us. Trying to sweep a girl off her feet with a grand romantic gesture only work if the girl isn’t already running as fast as she possibly can to get away from you. ↩