Love Actually IS all around: the best storylines

Love Actually has loads of storylines packed into it, but which ones really stand out?

Isabel Ellis
13th December 2021
Image credit: IMDB
With so many different storylines in Love Actually, it feels almost impossible to pick a favourite! Our writers rose up to the test though and three of them tell us which one they'd pick...

Nothing screams Christmas like a porno, in fact, nothing screams love like pretending to have sex before you even know your ‘lovers’ name. John and Judy (yes, even after watching Love Actually one too many times, I still had to Google the characters' names) have the best, most underrated storyline of the whole film. Their story is one all families choose to ignore on their Christmas viewing of the movie - but what they truly represent, through the guise of explicit sex scenes, is that sweet, innocent first encounter of love.

Trying to explain how they got together... Image credit: IMDB

 In a film filled with blatant sexual harassment in the workplace *cough* The Prime Minister and his ‘Assistant’ *cough*, John and Judy have got the perfect relationship blend of consent and boundaries. They offer a realistic view of how whimsically awkward a first encounter can be with the reliance on small talk – yet they make it work and in fact are the only ones engaged by the end of it. And for me, the only quote I ever seem to recite after watching the film is the beautifully Welsh rendition of the line “All I want for Christmas... is you!”.  

Isabel Ellis

Every storyline in Love Actually is hilarious (and sometimes heart-breaking) in its own way.

Certainly, I will never get over Emma Thompson crying to Joni Mitchell in her bedroom (I’m still salty towards Alan Rickman). But Hugh Grant’s velvety voice begins, and ends, the film. And so, his, and Martine McCutcheon’s, plotline in the Christmas classic is my favourite. Grant’s Tony Blair parody of a prime minister has one of the most iconic scenes in the film - when he tells the cocky (and creepy) president of America to “do one” on national TV.

Suitably festive... Image credit: IMDB

With his reference to 9/11 at the start, and the context of the Iraq war when the film came out, his refusal to be ‘bullied’ by America would have resonated with audiences. And, the fact that he’s defends Natalie’s honour just adds to the charm! McCutcheon’s character, from "the dodgy end" of Wandsworth, uncontrollably swears when she meets her boss, instantly introducing her as a relatable character. Similarly, David’s crush on Natalie makes him appear the ‘normal’ leader, as Blair was perceived (at first!). And his excuse that it seems "elitist and wrong" not to get to know her is endearing (‘the SAS are absolutely charming’!). His character peaks with the hilarious dancing scene to Jump, which Grant had to have a closed set for because he was so embarrassed!

And he challenges the early 2000s female body image - "would we call her chubby?" (she’s not!)

Imogen Clarke

It is with Alan Rickman’s (formally known as) “office tart” that we were all prepared to fight for Emma Thompson as a nation. 

Alan Rickman's character is caught out... Image credit: IMDB

Now one of the most well-known cinematic moments in Britain, Emma Thompson crying to Joni Mitchell became one of the forefront storylines of Love Actually. We grow to love Emma’s character, Karen, through her satirical motherly role she has with her children and friend, Daniel (as played by Liam Neeson). The love that Alan and Emma’s characters portray is typical British wit, exchanging sarcasm in replacement of romance found in other storylines; a representation of true contemporary British marriage.

The moment when Emma excitedly opens the Joni Mitchell album on Christmas Eve in front of her children is one that sticks out to every British viewer who has seen Love Actually. We all knew at that moment who the necklace was for. Watching Emma cry in her room, on the surface, seems disappointing in the expression of love, but it’s their relationship that portrays the truth behind difficulties in marriage. Hugh Grant opens the film by telling us “love actually is all around” and Emma and Alan show what love can actually involve. 

Sarah Tunstall
Video Credit: Movieclips Classic Trailers
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