i’m not entirely sure whether richard curtis intended for this to be a joke or not, but it is. in the film bill nighy plays an aging pop/rock star who comes out with a new christmas song in an attempt to reach the top of the charts. it’s an awful cover of a song about love. he knows it’s a shitty song and says as much throughout the film in interviews, etc. he’s pandering to the masses and he knows it. this film is the same way, though i’m not certain that curtis knows it. i’d respect the guy a lot more if he did this all as a joke: i can make the most awful and schmaltzy crap filled film you’re likely to see this year and you’ll still eat it up because you’re emotionally simple. if i ever talk with him i’ll ask him about this.
it’s not that the film is without funny moments or at least the idea of real feelings, it’s just that it’s delivered as if it were done by a computer program. there’s little to no character development and absolutely no subtlety. i won’t even address how ridiculously unrealistic it is, after all it’s just a dumb movie.
the writing is awful and i’m convinced that the only reason people embraced this is the star power that it brings. there are an amazing number of (mostly british) stars who likely pulled in the viewers and were able to sell to the public the perception that this is a quality film. the thing that’s so brilliant about the star system (the only sustainable system that the film industry has found) is that it doesn’t always require good acting or writing or directing or anything else; and this film is evidence of that as well as any other in cinema’s history. because people like the stars in the film they think they like the characters, they think they like the film, they think it’s well done, etc. of course the whole things is a rouse, but it totally works.
by the way, i have little to no problem with the british people – they’ve historically made great music and, the revolution aside, have been on our side for a long time. that said, they’re basically incapable of making great films. it’s just genetically/socially impossible for them to generate a really great film. ok, so there are maybe 5 in their history – goodbye mr. chips (directed by an american), lawrence of arabia (overrated), bridge on the river kwai, trainspotting, gandhi. what’s more is that their best filmmaker and maybe the best ever (hitchcock) didn’t make his great films until he left. and one of my favorites (kubrick) made worse films once he moved to the uk. so clearly there is something cosmic about the uk which sucks away film talent.
lastly, the film has a pretty damn loose definition of “love.” i understand that it was trying to show the various ways that love manifests itself, but i don’t know that any of the man-woman relationships could be classified as love. i specify man-woman because it did appear as though the parents did love their children, though, oddly, non-romantic love really isn’t addressed in the film. it’s only the crushes and whimsical forms of “love” that are seen in the film. the cheating husband, the woman who has a crush on her co-worker, the writer who is infatuated with a woman who speaks a different language (they’ve never had a conversation yet they get engaged at the end of the film), the young boy who has a literal schoolboy crush on some nine year old girl, a guy who flies to wisconsin to hook up with american chicks, the prime minister who wants to pork his assistant (who looks an awful lot like monica lewinsky)…none of these suit my idea of love. i’d be interested to hear from people who like the film to see which one actually fits their definition of love. the couple that we may see the least is a man and woman who are stand-ins who develop a friendship and are engaged a couple weeks later. this may be love, though it certainly moved quickly. the only other love that may have existed in the film is one that we don’t see – liam neeson and his late wife may have loved each other, but she’s dead when the movie starts so we don’t really know.
perhaps all the ideas of love in the film are cautionary, but that would require a completely different tone – one that isn’t so happy, supportive of the nonsense, and is more critical. instead the film reinforces the idea that everything in the film is love with the intro and epilogue by saying “love is actually all around.” it’s supposed to be an uplifting statement in the post 9/11 world (it actually mentions 9/11), but it doesn’t work. grant points out in the intro narration that all the people in the plane who called others before they died were calling loved ones, not hated ones. this is proof, apparently, that love is all around us and, presumably, more powerful and beautiful than hate. of course the reason they had to do that is that the terrorists were full of hate so it’s an odd point to make.
dreadful film with a few funny moments and some tna.