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Deconstructing December: Love is Misguided and Selfish, Actually

Released in 2003 and featuring the intertwining Christmas stories of love-seeking Londoners, Love Actually has become something of a modern holiday classic. Showcasing a vast line-up of Oscar winning and nominated actors, the film revolves around the thesis that "love actually is all around." Though it's debatable whether “love” is the emotion involved in each relationship, there is one storyline which should appall and offend any married or romantically-involved person watching. Not the Alan Rickman on the verge of an affair with his young, hot secretary story; that one is actually rather nicely developed and layered if one forgives the Emma Thompson public confrontation at their children's school. No, I refer to the unrequited love storyline – ah yes I know, there are several. Not the Laura Linney in love with her underwear model co-worker one, which goes wrong when Co-worker tries to play psychologist suggesting solutions for her institutionalized brother on the first date. Nor is it the one with the kid who's got a crush on the other kid, which completely works. Nope, this tale is the one involving a newlywed husband, his wife (Kiera Knightly) and the husband's best friend who hopelessly pines for Knightly.

The plot is this: Knightly and Husband, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, get married, while Friend, played by Andrew Lincoln looks on wistfully. Cut to the reception, where Laura Linney (intertwining!) questions Friend about his pine-ful looks toward the bride and groom. As it turns out our hero, Friend loves Knightly. So he films her at a distance and stashes the footage in his apartment. When she finds that her own video is “hideous” she invites herself into Friend's abode and realizes the whole tape is of her. Later he shows up at her place, and does an artsy poster-board bit professing his love, whereupon she kisses him.

A-ha, it is she that fills his mind! But alas, she knows not his adoring thoughts and marries the other fellow...
In any rational world, that should end it. He wants his best friend's girl (she did not used to be mine), but they get married. Done, put that to bed, take a shot and find a bridesmaid to chat up. It is, after all, his best friend.

But wait, his feelings can't just be set aside...
And why not? Because he's let them fester far too long, that's why! It is only the cultivated notion that he and she should be together that allows his longing to continue. Had he set his initial attraction aside in the beginning, when Husband and Knightly started to date (which was presumably a while before the wedding - these things take time to plan) perhaps he would be less consumed by it now. Nip it in the bud.

He didn't tell her, she figured it out...
Yeah, how did she figure it out? She looked at the video he took on the wedding day. Let's address this one from Husband's point of view, shall we? Another dude keeps candid film of your wife in his apartment. Enough said.

But that poster-board confession, was so romantic...
Wrong. That's what it was, wrong. Sure he's not trying to break-up the marriage, but if that's not his intent, why even do it? I suppose you could argue he was trying to patch it up and get some closure, but closure isn't her problem. And as for patching things up, there would be nothing to patch if the previous points were addressed properly, now would there?

The kiss...
I don't know what to say about this. How does she know that her kiss won't spark up what he's finally trying to snuff out? Plus, she's still married – to his best pal. Would she be cool with Husband showing another woman that kind of affection, hmm? “But honey, she did this quirky poster-board thing with a radio and I just melted...” Come on.

So yeah, it might seem like a romantic, harmless storyline, but I suggest it is a story that should have never been. What do you think? Feelings on unrequited love, and furthermore, for taken individuals? 

This article appears as part of a series. Visit Deconstructing December to see more. 

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1 comment:

  1. I agree that this story within the movie is fairly unrealistic...BUT are any of the stories within the movie realistic?

    Who falls in love without being able to have conversations a la Colin Firth's character and the woman from Portugal?
    How is it that the kid got all the way through the airport without the security guards using their walkie-talkies to contact more guards in the terminal?
    And the one that bothers me the most...why wouldn't the prime minister (Hugh Grant's character) just use his resources to find out his caterer Natalie's home address instead of going door to door?
    The point of the movie isn't realism. The point, to me, is to provide us with a chance to remember that we can believe in love if we want to and that things can happen that are unexpected and wonderful :)