Telling Off the Prez: “Love Actually” Still Sings
“‘Plumpy’ still loves Love Actually…”
Many American friends of Britain (and I trust vice-versa) think the “Special Relationship,” invented by Winston Churchill, tends nowadays to work in only one direction. Love Actually suggests this. Hugh Grant as Prime Minister delivers an unexpected message to a U.S. President.
Seriously stellar cast
Love Actually is a rom-com about ten different romances going on simultaneously in London at Christmas. The cast is remarkable: Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”), Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean, the mute comic), Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman (Sybil Trelawney and Severus Snape from Harry Potter). And Liam Neeson, who for once isn’t slaying the Ungodly but trying to be a good step-dad to his ten- year-old son. (The boy is in love with an American of the same age.)
Quite a cast—not the least Martin Freeman and Joanna Page, who meet as body doubles for movie sex scenes. John says (while naked and simulating sex): “it is nice to have someone I can just chat to.” They fall for each other and she takes him home and invites him in. He says, “Are you sure this is all right? I’ve never done this before.”
PM and President
In the midst of all this the Prime Minister receives a visit from the President of the United States (Billy Bob Thornton). The Prez is a really snarky piece of work. On the side, he tries to seduce Natalie (Martine), of Downing Street staff. During their plenary meeting, he tells Hugh he has an agenda he plans to follow, whatever Britain thinks. tale or leave it.
At the press conference the President mouths the usual platitudes about the Special Relationship and Hugh tells him off in public. Naturally, Churchill gets a mention. This is a terrific scene for those who think the “special relationship” tends sometimes to be a one-way street. You can watch it on YouTube.
Also, the PM gets the girl. When she sends him a Christmas card professing her love, he calls for his chauffeur and heads for her street in Wandsworth (“the dodgy end”). There he goes door to door asking if Natalie lives there. The reactions of the residents are priceless. A woman says, “Are you who I think you are?” Hugh replies: “Yes I am. Sorry for all the cock-ups, not my fault, my cabinets are absolute crap. We’ll try to do better next year.”
He finds Natalie going out to a kids’ Christmas play. He takes her whole family to it in his Jaguar with its police escort, then hides with Natalie backstage. Unfortunately the curtain pulls back at the end and they’re caught. “Too late, just smile and wave.”
By the way, a tip of the hat to former Prime Minister David Cameron, who said similar things, though not with Hugh Grant’s panache. (Some Britons who watch the film, perhaps not so jokingly, like to propose Grant for PM. His character displays none of the gratuitous pomposity and virtue signaling of the current crop of politicians. And not just the British ones.)