In some ways it can be a curse to have an analytical mind, as it makes one pull things apart to find out what makes them tick. In Part 1 of these two posts I criticised a lot of the drama on TV because of aimless chatter and impossible wreckage. Then I discovered ‘Love Actually’, the zany, impossible, but to me, hilarious and joyful film, with just enough pathos to heighten the contrast. I wanted to understand why I could look at it more often than other films that were highly praised, and why when I was watching it I tended to sit with a silly smile on my face. I believe I have discovered that this film has aspects that, to my knowledge, no other has, and has been carefully put together so that the story builds inexorably to the conclusion, which too, is joyful.
The aspects that I refer to, firstly is that there are practically no long periods of dialogue, indeed the dialogue is the smallest feature. Secondly we are treated to a series of separate stories where the participants are seen together in a common scene, but the audience is not aware that we will be seeing them all under different circumstances, and in the penultimate and final scenes, see them all together again. Thirdly, there is a certain amount of background music, which for once doesn’t drown out the dialogue, and is used so that subconsciously we are aware that we have moved from one cameo to another, and the music itself is memorable. Each of the cameo stories, taken prosaically is impossible to believe, but the sincerity of the acting, the lack of any intent to send the stories up, encourages one to go back to one’s childhood and enjoy a ridiculous fairytale, without being critical of the content, or relating it to reality.
It would spoil the pleasure for those who have never seen the film, for me to comment on the actors and the acting, except merely to say it is done with a very delicate touch and very competently. I believe it is the simple and smooth transition from one cameo to the next, together with the story being told more by what we see, what we infer, than what we hear, which makes easy viewing. For me the joy was in the underlying ridiculousness of all situations and the apparent honesty with which they were portrayed. I accept that this film is not to everyone’s taste, but with a silly season coming up, it will be repeated regularly, and I strongly advise you, if you’re not totally of a serious disposition, to give it a go, because it has all the elements of some of the better comedy, like ‘Open All Hours’ when the actors don’t overtly play for a laugh, but the humour is paramount.