The Unsettling Part Of ‘Love Actually’ That Nobody Ever Talks About

For the best Christmas movie ever, it's slightly problematic.

Love Actually is without a doubt my favourite Christmas film. The Holiday follows a close second, but there’s something about Love Actually that fills my heart with joy and sorrow every year in the most heart-warming way. So before you say “this journo is a Christmas-hating cynic”, I still love Love Actually, despite this unsettling moment that left me a bit like “…well ok then”.

I was watching the movie over the weekend like I do on multiple occasions around this time of year when I noticed something that never really stuck out to me before. Let me explain.

In one of the first scenes of the movie, it becomes apparent that Liam Neeson’s character Daniel has lost his wife to an unknown illness. We find this out when Daniel calls his friend Karen, who is played by Emma Thompson, to chat about it, for her only to ask can she call him back and finish the call with: “it doesn’t mean I’m not terribly concerned that your wife just died.”

So that’s how we find out Daniel’s wife has just died. Initially, I saw the “it doesn’t mean I’m not terribly concerned that your wife just died” line for the blunt joke it was meant to be taken as like everyone else, trust me when I say I’m not looking for issues in our favourite movies like a terrible human. That was until I put two and two together and noticed Daniel’s wife’s funeral takes place after this scene, meaning when he made that call to Karen she was probably dead just a few days.

When you think about the scene again, you realise that Daniel’s wife has died no more than a few days ago, leaving him to care for her son alone. He’s obviously completely devo and he calls his best friend to have a cry, saying the words: “I literally don’t have anybody else to talk to”, to which she replies: “Absolutely. Horrible moment right now though. Can I call you back?”, then proceeds to hang up the phone so she can listen to her child tell her what role she got in the school nativity.

I’m aware that Emma Thompson’s character was created to deliver these sharp lines in the film and that’s why a lot of people love her, and can admit that she’s gas in lots of other parts of the movie, but to me, this part is so f*cked up it can’t be ignored. We know that Daniel goes on to deal with his grief throughout the movie and even meets a new lady by the end, so all ends well, but to me it sounds like his phone call was a literal cry for help and Karen was like “nah mate am busy sorry!!”. Obviously, life after a loved one’s death goes on and people might rather not listen to others wallow in grief all day long, but she wasn’t even busy – she was listening to her child drone on about the bloody nativity play, and her best friend’s wife is barely cold in the grave and he needs her for a bit of support. God, Karen, get your priorities straight girl!

I can accept that Love Actually came out in 2003, over 15 years ago, and people were more likely to take a joke and let things slide back then, but I feel if the movie came out today, when suicide in men is a serious problem, having Emma Thompson not take a call off a pain stricken Liam Neeson wouldn’t go down too well, and rightly so. I’m not going to ask for the movie to be censored, I love it just as much as the next person! Just thought it was something to note. Not a sound move Karen, not a sausage of sensitivity.


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