On my last snowy night in London, with two of us tired and not feeling well, we decided to stay in and watch Christmas movies. Online searches revealed the terrible dearth of decent holiday films, and I can never recall movie titles. But somebody had recently mentioned Love Actually to me, which two of us hadn’t seen, and one had seen long ago. It seemed to be so many people’s holiday favourite, though I’d once read a negative feminist critique. I observed that I enjoy watching movies I hate in any case. So, since it was seasonal and set in London, we overcame every possible obstacle to access it legally.
My dear friends, I can’t tell you how appalled we all were.
This was possibly the worst film I have ever seen. To explain how awful would take thousands more words. Let me just say that my sons agreed that the film should be called Lust Actually. There is so little of love in the film.
But most importantly, in the wake of the #metoo discussions, this film is shocking in its casual portrayal of sexual harassment—for which one of the female characters apologises to her boss (the British PM, no less) who witnesses yet does nothing to protect her from it. In fact, he soon has her removed from her apparently prestigious position serving him tea, since he can’t control his own attraction to her. Yes, gross power imbalances between couples is just fine in this world. These are just two of many more horrible scenes of sexism and creepy or objectifying sexuality presented in this film as supposed examples of love.
We were truly incredulous throughout the film. Do not watch it. Especially do not watch it if you are looking for something with Christmas spirit. Or something with love. Or even something with romance. (Emma Thompson’s performance and character is an exception to my complaints. Nothing else was remotely believable.)
Though one of my sons noted that the pain of watching it together was a bonding experience, I do wish we’d thought of watching Mary Poppins instead.