We watched the movie again over the weekend. It’s definitely in a class of movies I could see every few years pretty much forever, along with A Christmas Story, Die Hard, That Thing You Do, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, Wonder Boys, My Favorite Year, and Almost Famous.
One of the many things I love about Love Actually, with its too-many-to-count story lines loosely weaved together, is that at least two of the storylines end unhappily. It makes the ending of the movie more bittersweet.
Something I noticed this time around: One turning point in the movie is when Alan Rickman’s character goes shopping for Christmas gifts, and buys an expensive necklace. Has he already decided to buy it for Mia? Or is he still thinking at that point he might buy it for his wife?
Hugh Grant’s Prime Minister character is less and less believable every time we watch the movie. And I still don’t care, because Hugh Grant’s character just gets better and better. Watch his face in the scene at the end when his bodyguard starts singing “Good King Wenceslas.”
The cut scenes are a treat. We didn’t watch them again this year, because we watched on Apple TV rather than a DVD, but I would have wanted to watch them if we had them.
I’m not usually a fan of uncut scenes and director’s voice-overs in DVDs. I’ve watched a few and enjoyed them, but I don’t anymore, and I don’t miss them.
Love, Actually is the exception. The uncut scenes are very good, because they are entire vignettes and story arcs, some of them featuring characters not in the released movie. Other DVD extras are just scenes or fragments of scenes, but these are whole stories.
Fans of the movie will remember Emma Thompson’s character complaining about their troublesome son Bernard. In the uncut scenes, we see a sequence where Bernard gets into hilarious trouble over a school assignment. In another sequence, we see the headmistress of the school caring for her terminally ill girlfriend. One nice touch in these two story lines: In the first one, the headmistress is a stiff, unlikeable authority figure, and then when she cares for her girlfriend, we see another side of her.
Another storyline deals with two women in an African village. The African storyline is loosely woven into the stories of the main British characters through a very clever device.
Yet another storyline deals with Liam Neeson’s character, whose computer has been taken over by a virus that displays porn pop-ups in his browser, just as his late wife’s parents are about to come over for dinner.
I understand why those stories and scenes were cut. One reason is that the movie is already very long. Another reason is that the Bernard and porn stories don’t fit the rest of the movie. They’re broad farce; the rest of Love, Actually is broad, but nowhere near as farcical as those stories. The climactic line of dialogue in the Bernard story, delivered by Emma Thompson, rings false. It’s too Hollywood.
But still: The deleted scenes of Love, Actually are well worth seeing, if you’re the kind of fan who sees the movie more than once.
And here they are on YouTube. Or, two of them at least:
The headmistress’s story:
P.S. We also watched A Christmas Story again this weekend. My insight this time around: Ralphie is a horrible, horrible brat. The Higbee’s Santa should have kicked him even harder.