Summaries

Love Actually (2003)

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Film and Plot Synopsis

Love Actually follows the lives of eight loosely interrelated couples during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England. Set during a time of what should be holiday cheer, these people try to overcome bumps in their love lives.

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‘Love Actually’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Love Actually is a massive ensemble film with seemingly disconnected stories that are later revealed to be tied together by the holiday season, and well, love actually.

The film begins with aging musician Billy Mack attempting to make a comeback, guided by his loyal manager Joe. Billy has redone the song “Love Is All Around” into “Christmas Is All Around”. Billy spends the film taking the slings and arrows from critics for making such an obvious money grab, before his little song becomes the Christmas number one single, propelling him back into the limelight.

But Billy has learned something from this humbling experience. He has learned that Joe is longest relationship he has ever had, and that he loves the man. In a non-homosexual way of course, but Billy ends the film by foregoing a party at Elton John’s house to get drunk with Joe at his flat on Christmas Eve.

Another plot line follows the story of Harry, Karen, and Mia. Harry and Karen have been married for many years and have a couple of children. Mia is Harry’s much younger secretary who has eyes for the elder Harry. Harry and Karen have slipped into comfortable, but boring routine of a long term marriage; often taking each other for granted.

When Mia shows interest in Harry, Harry begins to fall down the trap of a potential extra marital affair. Karen discovers a necklace that Harry has purchased for Mia, and ultimately confronts Harry about Mia. The film ends with the couple in uncertain times; still together, but questioning whether they want to be.

Another storyline tells the story of Karen’s big brother, David, who has just happens to be the Prime Minister. On his first day, David meets Natalie, a junior member of his staff. David is immediately smitten with her, but awkwardly mishandles every interaction with her. When the President of the United States makes a State visit and attempts to sample everything the Great Britain has to offer, including Natalie; the jealous David has Natalie reassigned away from his detail.

Later in the film, David receives a Christmas card from Natalie, and goes out into the night to find her. Once he finds her, he gets looped into going to her brother’s Christmas play where he finally gets to kiss her…in front of the entire auditorium of people. The film ends with the two finally together, without any awkwardness.

Then there is Juliet, Peter, and Mark, another little love triangle. Juliet and Peter begin the film by getting married to each other, while Mark appears to be pining over Peter, and seems to dislike Juliet. However, half way through the film Juliet discovers that Mark is in love with her, and has always treated her so distantly out of a sense of preservation for himself. The film ends with Mark telling Juliet that he loves her, and promising not to pursue her any further. Juliet in return gives Mark one passionate kiss and then goes back to Peter.

We also see the story of Daniel and Sam. Daniel, a friend of Karen’s, is mourning the death of the love of his life, Joanna. Sam is Joanna’s son, but not Daniel’s. Daniel is frustrated by the distance that has developed between him and Sam, but soon learns that Sam is hopelessly in love with a girl at school, who is also named Joanna. They come up with a plot for Sam to learn how to play the drums so that he could capture the attention of the young Joanna, who will be singing at the Christmas concert, the same one that David and Natalie attend. When Joanna leaves to return to America after the concert, Daniel and Sam pursue her through the Heathrow airport. Ultimately, Sam gets his first kiss from Joanna, and Daniel finds new love with Carol, a Claudia Schiffer look alike.

There is also the story of Jamie and Aurelia. Jamie has recently broken up with his long time girlfriend after he discovers that she has been having an affair with his brother. He retreats to a French cottage so that he can work on his novel. He hires a local Portuguese housekeeper by the name of Aurelia to help him. Throughout the course of the film, the two begin to fall in love with each other, but despite trying to tell each other about their feelings, they can’t overcome the language barrier. When Jamie returns to London, he takes Portuguese lessons and returns to France to confess his love to Aurelia and ask for her hand in marriage. Much to his surprise, Aurelia has taken English lessons so that she can talk to Jamie. They kiss and plan to get married.

One of the saddest plotlines involves the story of Sarah, Karl, and Michael. Sarah and Karl work together for Harry (remember him). Sarah has been in love with Karl for years. However, another man stands between her and total happiness, and that is her brother Michael. Michael is mentally ill, and Sarah is his sole remaining family. Michael is always calling Sarah on her mobile, and Sarah constantly puts her life on hold for him. One night when Karl and Sarah finally connect, Michael starts calling. And as always, Sarah takes the call, while Karl slowly leaves Sarah’s apartment. The film ends with Sarah, still sadly single, but sharing a holiday moment with her brother in the mental hospital.

There were also two smaller storylines interspersed throughout the film. One is the story of Colin, an awkward British twenty something, who believes he is unsuccessful with women because of his Britishness. So he jets over to the United States were he is ends up in a threesome on his first night. Not so much Love Actually, but Sex Actually. And then there is the story of John and Judy, an ordinary couple who meet like most people meet, by working as stand ins on a porno film.

In the end, Love Actually is not so much about Christmas, but the feelings that the holiday brings up in us during this time of year.

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Universal Pictures released Love Actually on November 14, 2003. Richard Curtis directed the film starring Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, and Liam Neeson.

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