While no one was looking — but apparently everyone was watching — someone went and declared Love Actually a holiday classic. And The Atlantic‘s Christopher Orr is having none of it. In an essay entitled “Love Actually Is the Least Romantic Film of All Time” — take that, Schindler’s List! — he writes:
The fundamental problem with Love Actually is that it presents romance as either absurdly easy — something that strikes you like a thunderclap and requires only a single grand gesture in order to be fulfilled — or all but impossible. Notably absent is the idea that love might ever be worth a little sustained effort: some mutual exploration and discovery, a bit of care and nurture, maybe even the overcoming of an obstacle or two. Indeed, it’s hard to shake the sense that what is “classic” about Love Actually is not that it shows us anything about how people fall in love, but that it so conspicuously declines even to try.
Culture being what it is, the Internet greeted Orr’s essay with polite disapproval and a willingness to consider contrary opinions such as this one: “Haha. Relax man. It’s a movie. You really wrote like 2,000 words on Love Actually?”
Love Actually is, in fact, less a film about love as it is a film about people who think they are in love. Almost all of the stories center around people who either early on, or before the film even begins, figure out they’re nuts about someone and then spend the five weeks before Christmas wondering, “What do I do now?” It’s a bit like Hamlet but with romantic gestures instead of, you know, death.