A few days ago I watched “Love Actually" on TV. It’s a 2003 film and I remember I had a conversation with one of my students. Back in the time I was a daytime assistant and a nighttime Mandarin teacher. My first student was a Canadian in his fifties. Until then he had been staying in Taiwan for more than a decade, and suddenly, he decided to learn some Mandarin. He brought me a tangerine every time he came. He said that’s a habit of his hometown, bringing some fruit for your teacher.
One day after class, we were talking about movies in the coming weekend. I said I might go to see “Love Actually." My student was a fan of Russell Crowe and history/adventure novels , so Hugh Grant and romantic comedies definitely were not to his taste. He thought these chick movies were a waste of time.
I forgot if his comment affected my decision or not, but I remembered watching the dvd of “Love Actually" and felt a bit disappointed. It’s great to see so many actors I love in one movie, and those little stories were interesting or funny, but I was not particularly touched or moved by it. It’s like a popcorn movie to bring your some entertainment for a while and then you just move on to your life.
I don’t know since when “Love Actually" has become a Christmas tradition for some people. Like Keira Knightley said in one interview, the movie didn’t come out as a big hit, but it’s gradually been appreciated over the years. There is really, a time for everything.
Watching “Love Actually" 15 years later brings more delight (and sadness) than it did 15 years ago. You would feel time has really passed when you see the cast in their younger days. Surprise would come from seeing the young Martin Freeman, and sadness would come from seeing the late Alan Rickman. I could feel more humor and mockery from Bill Nighy’s character, and I regret I didn’t watch the film more closely last time when I saw Hugh Grant’s character singing “Good King Wenceslas." I had to translate part of its lyrics recently, and when I saw the translation in this film I thought , oh my god, my translation was, so bad! Wish I had learned more about Christmas culture before I got the project…..
And also the things about the mistletoes and Christmas. If I watched the film carefully, I would have known this a few years earlier, long before I watched “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
Last year there is a brief sequel to this film, it’s for Red Nose Day, and the whole movie keeps the heartwarming, humorous tone but with slight seriousness from Grant’s character’s speech. It’s a nice supplement to the original film, like a Christmas card from an old friend, telling you everything is fine with him/her.
Some cast member also share her memory about the film. Keira Knightley said the reason her character wore a blue hat is that she had a big pimple on her forehead at the shooting day and they had to cover it up.
Emma Thompson, who is a good friend with Alan Rickman, told a funny story at 2016 Berlinale screening of “Sense and Sensibility." Many years ago, on Christmas Eve she held a party at her house, and Alan was invited. Somehow there was a moment she stood under the mistletoes at her house, and then she saw Alan coming towards her from the sitting room. She said she kind of expected a kiss but in the end, Alan took a hair under her chin and said that might be some “incipient beard." Then he just walked off and Emma didn’t get what she expected. “You never know he is going to kiss you or upset you," she said.
I remember seeing some report saying Emma visited Alan before he passed away. On that screening occasion, at the time she just lost a good friend, she chose to share a funny memory about him. I appreciate this funny story too, it makes the thoughts of his leaving less heavy.
15 years after “Love Actually" is released, romantic comedies have become like rainbows or pandas, something rarely seen or going extinct. There are still people getting married, love stories being read, but we are growing cynical about romantic comedies, like Rebel Wilson’s character said in the movie “Isn’t It Romantic." After an accident, her character found out she was trapped in a world of PG-13 romantic comedy, where everything is too perfect. It’s like “Groundhog Day" but with a twist. When cynicism and doubt become the trend of the time…or, maybe it just reflects what we are actually thinking about that unrealistic world?