As we inch close to December, many of us will be thinking about sticking on a festive flick to mark the occasion, and luckily Netflix is the home of many of our favourites.
It might be a cliche, but there really is just something so cosy about watching a Christmas film, hot chocolate in hand.
But now, the ultimate Christmas film has just hit the streaming platform, landing in a flurry of octopus costumes, music video snow and questionable cue cards.
I unapologetically enjoy Love Actually, despite its many oddities and the well-documented creepiness of some central characters. Before we continue, I must stress that Christmas is definitely not the time to profess your undying love for your best mate’s wife mere weeks after the wedding.
The love in Love Actually admittedly doesn’t bear too much resemblance to real-world relationships, and there is an alarming number of storylines involving bosses pining after their younger employees (three on my count).
However, there are few films which make me feel, well, so very Christmassy, with every vignette exploring a different shade of Yuletide love, romantic, platonic, paternal and otherwise. Indeed, and bear with me, I would confidently describe it as the ultimate Christmas movie.
Although not my absolute favourite – I’m afraid nothing can ever beat Elf for me – it’s usually the first old Christmas DVD I’ll reach for as December draws near, putting me in just the right frame of mind for the manic shopping sprees and tinsel strewn parties to come.
Wizzard may have wished it was Christmas everyday, but for many, there’s a duality to this season beneath the sparkle and Bucks Fizz. Plenty of us will feel especially lonely or heartbroken at this time, even around others, past disappointments suddenly lit up like Oxford Street Christmas lights.
This pressure to be jolly can feel cruelly juxtaposed against those eagerly anticipating the big day itself, excited to exchange gifts with a so-far flawless new partner or fold themselves back into the easy warmth of their family home.
Written and directed by Richard Curtis, whose ’90s romcoms about ‘lightning bolt’ love and movie star romances set the bar way too high for me relationship-wise, Love Actually captures the anticipation, joys, silliness and reconciliations of the run-up to Christmas, as well as the sadness.
There are few movie scenes which affect me quite as much as when Emma Thompson’s character Karen sobs quietly in her room to Both Sides Now before putting on a brave face ahead of her children’s Nativity play.
The ensemble nature of Love Actually means we don’t know all that much about Karen as a person. However, in these brief closing scenes, we get a real sense of a mum going through the motions to ensure her kids’ magical memories aren’t tainted.
Similarly, I’ve always liked the dynamic between Daniel (Liam Neeson) and his stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster), who go full-blown rom-com in the depths of grief to impress Sam’s classmate Joanna (Olivia Olson). Although few of us would dare stage a last-minute airport dash, the joy amid sorrow is no doubt relatable to many of those celebrating without loved ones this year.
All poignancy aside, Love Actually is funny, daft and quotable, being the perfect film to wrap those first few presents in front of.
It may have been described as ‘an indigestible Christmas pudding’ by The New York Times upon its 2003 release, but Love Actually continues to unite us all with its whimsical sentimentality and characters we love to mock.
You can catch Love Actually on Netflix now.
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