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Ranking the relationships in ‘Love Actually’

The 2003 romantic comedy, ‘Love Actually,’ features a notoriously complex storyline; virtually ten different plots which are somehow interconnected, and come together for a grand finale in which all of the characters stumble upon each other in an airport terminal. In accordance with the title of the film, the theme is love around Christmastime, or the holiday season. Despite this, not all of the relationships in this film are successful, or commendable, to say the least. For this reason, I will be ranking them below, from my least favourite, to my favourite.

8. Karen and Harry

I don’t even know where to begin with this awful marriage… While Karen, played by Emma Thompson, does her best to prepare her children for the Christmas pageant, in which they play the lobster, her husband Harry (Alan Rickman) is busy cheating on her with a mysterious woman, Mia (Heike Makatsch), from his office. Just when Karen thinks she’s going to get something other than a scarf for Christmas, he proceeds to buy an expensive necklace for Mia and gift her a cheap CD. Unfortunately, this isn’t the worst of it, because Harry then proceeds to slow dance with Mia at his company party right in plain view of his miserable wife. For this reason, I cannot rank their relationship anywhere but in last place.

7. Juliet, Peter, and Mark

Everything about this relationship is strange. Mark (Andrew Lincoln) films close up camera footage of Juliet, played by the beautiful Keira Knightley, throughout the duration of her and Peter’s entire wedding. Then, when Juliet arrives at his apartment to ask if he has any suitable footage, as hers has gone mysteriously green, he first lies to her, and then embarasses himself even more by leaving the apartment with no coat and no key in the middle of December. Cut to a later scene when he turns up on Juliet and Peter’s doorstep pretending to be carol singers so he can “romantically” profess his love through the use of tacky poster boards. Nothing about this relationship is remotely romantic or even slightly morally correct.

6. Sarah and Karl

Can you even call this a relationship? Sarah (Laura Linney) has fruitlessly attempted to seduce Karl (Rodrigo Santoro) from across the office cubicles of her job without telling him that she has liked him for 2 years, 7 months, 3 days, one hour and 30 minutes. After Harry tells her that it is painfully obvious she is madly in love with this man whom she has never spoken to, she is able to dance with him at the Christmas party. She subsequently invites him back to her apartment, where he inevitably leaves because of her prioritising her mentally ill brother over him. I can’t find a single positive thing to say about this absolute catastrophe.

5. Colin, Stacey, Jeannie, and Carol-Anne

The only positive thing about this is that the lonely and socially awkward Colin (Kris Marshall) is finally able to find someone, not repulsed by his complete lack of awareness and social cues, not to mention the scruffy haircut and vacant expression. And possibly the fact that he brings a girl home to his seemingly equally lonely best friend. Other than that, all I can comment on is the unlikelihood of this ever happening beyond the set of a Hollywood rom-com.

4. John and Judy

Despite the fact that this relationship began under strange circumstances, I think the awkwardness of the relationship between John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page) isn’t as bad as it seems. The small talk about traffic and how cold it is on set leading to a coffee date makes for a much more realistic relationship than most of the others portrayed in this film. Although I believe they make a cute couple, I do cringe every time Judy says her “All I want for Christmas is you” line.

3. Sam and Joanna

The only reason this relationship ranks so high is because it’s between primary school students. If these were two adults, and one learned the drums to impress the other, it would be an immediate ‘no’ for me. Also, I feel like most people don’t consider the fact that Sam spends months and months devising a plan just for it to fail, and all the while Joanna doesn’t even know who he is. He must then run through an airport like a madman chasing the girl whom he has never had a conversation with. He sees her for another five seconds following that, in which they have their first ever conversation, and somehow fall so madly in love with each other that Joanna flies back from America to visit him at least once, which we see in the closing scene of the film.

2. Jamie and Aurelia

Yes, this relationship is somewhat corny, mostly due to the language barrier, and the fact that Jamie (Colin Firth) is unable to express himself sensibly in any language, even when the person he is speaking to doesn’t understand what he is saying. Nevertheless, I think the fact that he travels all the way from England to Portugal and misses his Christmas holiday with his family does count for something, and for this reason I can reward this relationship second place in my ranking.

1. David and Natalie

Something about David’s subtly throwing jabs to protect Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), fumbling every single possible sentence he says to her, and then showing up at her house on the evening of her sibling’s Christmas pageant makes this relationship hilariously catastrophic and funny at the same time. Maybe it’s the fact that Hugh Grant perfectly pulls off every role that he plays, or maybe the humbling aspect of a prime minister being unable to achieve the same goals which “normal people” have. In fact, this is the only relationship from the whole film which I believe has the potential to last after five years, seeing as their personalities are equally eccentric in their various aspects, and therefore fit together perfectly. Not to mention the fact that David fights to get Natalie back even after being the one to send her away, showing more resilience and honesty than most characters in this film even possess. Overall, this relationship gets the highest rank from me, and therefore can enjoy its title as best Love Actually relationship.

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