Saturday, January 14, 2006

Love Actually

*Warning* This post contains spoilers about Love Actually, so if you haven't seen it, go watch it right away (great movie!) and then come back to read this.

And now the post...

Sometimes, I'm hit in the face with the reason why I became a romance novelist, rather than choosing to pursue any other genre. This happened yesterday when I watched Love Actually for the second time. The first time I watched it, there were no subtitles for the portugese so I had to guess what Jamie and Aurelia were saying - believing me, the subtitles were way funnier than what I came up with.

But that's not the couple in the movie that this post is about. Nor is it about the guy who goes off to Milwaukee and has his fantasies fulfilled, or about the two stand-in's who fall in love (though they were incredibly sweet).

The couple that most affected me were Sara and Karl (Laura Linney and Rodrigo Santaro), because not only were they such finely nuanced characters (Karl wasn't just a hunk but one with heart), they didn't get their happy ending. I kept hoping the ending would change, that they would get together, but of course that didn't happen.

I had the same reaction, to a lesser extent, to the story involving Andrew (the guy in love with his best friend's wife) and the one with Emma Thompson (whose husband has the beginnings of an affair). They were all so sad and I desperately wanted to make it alright, to give them their happy endings, too. Unless they make a sequel, that's not going to happen, so I'll just have to rewrite the script in my head.

What interested me when I listened to the director's commentary was that during testing of the film, a majority of the audience had the same reaction to Sara and Karl. They, too, wanted happiness for these two, to the point of begging the director/writer to add in another scene to make it better.

When it comes down to the human heart, it appears that us romance novelists and readers aren't the only hopeless romantics out there, which is a wonderful thing. Maybe love actually is all around us, and if we believe hard enough, we can imagine a future in which Sara and Karl get their happy ever after. After all, that's what imaginations are for.


Michele said...

I haven't seen Love Actually and now I'm kind of reluctant to watch it. I don't like unhappy endings to movies that 'claim' to be romantic. I guess I'm a romance purist in that sense but what I'd like to ask these idiot producer/director/writers is this: why do you find it so hard to have a happy ending? What do you have against it? And if you're worried about what people might think, or worse if they'll laugh at you for having a happy ending, why do you pay attention to such idiots?

Sorry for the length of post but this is kind of a pet peeve about a lot of movies I have. (I guess that's why I loved Bride and Prejudice so much.)

qaminante said...

We are all shameless romantics and that's why virtually all versioins of P&P work so well - I loved Bride & Prejudice too.

Anonymous said...

Michele, definitely see the movie!! It has lots of happy endings along with the sad ones. I think the movie is all about exploring the different kinds of love that can happen and the different results, which is why it worked for me despite the sadness.

But yes, I'd agree with you re some other movies when the unhappy ending just seems to be added for the sake of it when a happy one could've worked out just as well.

Hi qaminante. Shameless romantics are always welcome here. :) I still haven't been able to find a copy of Bride and Prejudice and everyone who speaks about it says they love it. I must see it!

Nalini Singh said...

That was me above - forgot to sign in!

Emma Sinclair said...

But I don't think that any of the endings in Love Actually were sad.

"LOVE" actually means a lot of different things to a lot of different people and even though some of the characters didn't find the "romantic love" that we wanted to find, but they chose a different kind of love instead (SPOILER: Like Laura Linney and her brother and the friendship of the other trio).

Nalini Singh said...

Emma, you're so right. I was guilty of overlooking that brother-sister relationship because of the fact that the romantic relationship didn't work out, but Sara's relationship with her brother is just as powerful.