Some of you may know about Love Actually. I'm going to guess that more of you don't. That's ok--to be honest, I can't exactly remember how or why I even came across the movie, although I do remember I purchased it second hand from a cd/video store--yes, I may have actually just aged myself, but what the hell.
Love Actually is what Valentine's Day, and based on the reviews, New Year's Eve, were aiming to be. It's a movie composed of roughly a half dozen stories, intricately woven together through friendship and family ties, all taking place in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Some of them have happy endings, some of them don't, and some of them don't really have an ending either way.
Love Actually wins on a number of levels, first by NOT squeezing everything into a single day. Yeah, I get that life and real life situaitons do happen in a single day, but trying to connect and keep up with so many characters and their relationships is too time consuming and eventually too mind numbing for you to actually care about any of them. Love Actually spaces things out, builds storylines and characters to a believeable level, so when the guy finally gets the girl in the end, it's believable.
Second, as mentioned above, the writers of Love Actually weren't afraid to NOT give you the happy ending. Sure, in Valentine's Day there were a few non-happy moments, but the frown was quickly turned upside down. In Love Actually there are genuine non-happy endings. People don't get their heart's desire. Relationships are broken, possibly to the point of no return. This, this is actual, real life.
Third, Love Actually is funny. Like laugh out loud, feel good about yourself funny. Seriously, how can you watch Hugh Grant dance around like an idiot and not laugh? Or watch Colin Firth shiek like a girl after jumping in a lake and not start giggling? Or watch...damn, what's his name...anyway, the English caterer guy totally work the accent in the middle of Wisconsin and wind up with Elisha Cuthbert and not crack up? Is some of it gimmicky? Maybe. But it works.
Fourth, and most importantly, this is one of the movies I feel every writer should watch, because it totally highlights the difference between showing and telling. One of the mini-stories centers around a couple who can't even actually talk to each other--they can't speak the other person's language. Through weeks of knowing each other, seeing each other, just being around each other, they fall in love--and it's there, in looks, in non-looks, just in how they are with each other. It's beautiful, and perfect, and they never say I love you until they each learn the other person's language, near the end of the movie.
I could continue to rhapsodize about the movie, but I won't. Instead, I'm going to tell you to go find it, either in the stores or on Netflix or wherever. Find it, watch it, and fall in love with it. Trust me, one watch, and you'll see why I watch this movie EVERY Christmas.