Love Actually: Coda

Despite all the good parts, there was something else I noticed about this film. It’s all about romances, yet every one of the females (at least, in a romantic role) was almost stunningly attractive, with the possible exception of Emma Thompson (I think she’s good looking, but they intentionally made her look “dowdier” than she is)…and she gets cheated on. Okay, I’ll grant that Laura Linney isn’t “stunning”, but she is very pretty. Now, most of the men were fairly good looking too (Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman), but again, what about our favorite arsehole, Colin?

The major case of what would be considered an “unattractive” woman is Aurelia’s sister…and that’s played for comic relief. Not too classy of them.
Don’t ordinary looking women fall in love? Why can we have the ugly dude scoring with (not one, but several) gorgeous girls, but we can’t have Colin Firth fall for the more plain sister?

For that matter, they don’t really explain the desirability of these women beyond their good looks, and they’re all shoved into fairly “conventional female” roles. Aurelia? Pretty and nice, but we don’t get a ton of her personality, and she’s a maid/waitress. Natalie? Pretty and nice, but we don’t know much about her, and she’s a…catering manager? I think? Sarah? Pretty, but what we see of her personality is actually a bit neurotic, although she works in an office (don’t know what she does). Daniel’s dead wife is never explained. Juliet is gorgeous, but we hardly know ANYTHING about her…her personality or line of work. Karen is probably the most in-depth we get, as far as her personality…I think she’s funny and witty. Her profession? Housewife. And then of coursel, we have Colin’s girls…personality zero, principal occupation: sex object.

On the whole, that’s not a very flattering portrayal of the females as PEOPLE, rather than as romantic interests. And ditto the men…aren’t these men interested in these women for anything beyond their appearance? It would be nice if they showed it.

Comments

  1. Maren says

    Hate to harp on the deleted scenes from the DVD, but they are fantastic and never should have been cut (studio influence anyone?).

    They bring in two very illuminating relationships: the one between Karen (Emma Thompson) and her very rambunctious and diffucult son, Bernard; and the other between his headmistress and her companion.

    He gets in trouble at school and is brought to task by the headmistress (his Christmas wish is that farts were visible). It turns out that though the prank was very rude, Karen thinks it’s funny and subversively sides with him.

    The ‘Love’ relationship that you NEVER see hint of in the final cut of the film is the elderly headmistress and her elderly, invalid… companion. The movie never specifies whether they are sisters, lesbian lovers, or just spinsters who ended up together (as women used to do). The headmistress tells her companion about the rude prank the boy pulled and they both have a good laugh. The headmistress admits that she didn’t want to punish the boy, but had to keep up appearances.

    Too bad really. The sequence included an excellent clip of the Queen farting and both really deserved to be in the final cut.

  2. sbg says

    Don’t ordinary looking women fall in love? Why can we have the ugly dude scoring with (not one, but several) gorgeous girls, but we can’t have Colin Firth fall for the more plain sister?

    This is a question I’ve wanted an answer to for a long, long time.

  3. says

    Oh, the answer’s obvious…no one wants to say it, but it comes through pretty clear:

    “Yes, of course ordinary (and even unattractive) women fall in love. And in fact, plenty of less-than-gorgeous women fall in love with hot men, and even get them. However, we’re not going to make movies about that…because we think no one wants to see them. Now shut up and watch 3 beautiful women fall in love with and fight over Sean Connory.”

    Oh, wait, you wanted a good answer? That one might be a while in coming. :)

  4. says

    *resists urge to replace “Sean Connery” with “Jason Connery”, who is IMO so much hotter than his dad, who… ugh*

    Ahem. But yes. I had a very strange conversation about this once, but I’ve heard echoes of it since, so I think it’s standard operating procedure. Apparently, even when they go to make, say, a romance that’s totally targeting women, they think women want to look at gorgeous skinny starlets and fantasize both that we could look like her and snag that guy. In some cases, they seem to realize this isn’t true, and go for a woman they think is “non-threateningly pretty” to women. But even that’s bizarre because their idea of actresses who are non-threatening is, like, Renee Zellwegger, who is still far from “ordinary”. So even when movies target us, we get women who are right on The Beauty Standard, or just a hair off, but never women who defy it completely, either with their own style of beauty or plain looks combined with qualities other than beauty.

  5. says

    Okay, honesty to on again: I don’t really want to see movies about genuinely ordinary looking people falling love with other genuinely ordinary looking people (while it would be refreshing, it’s not quite what I’m looking for most of the time). I’m quite content to watch hot chick #33 fall in love with hot boy #56, as long as the plot is at least somewhat engaging and the movie doesn’t insult me (as far too many do). This is because I generally watch movies for suspension of disbelief. If I want reality, I can look out my front window.

    That said:
    –If people DO want those kind of movies, they should absolutely be made, not discarded because “nobody [read: me, or people in power] wants to watch that”.
    –The fact that those kind of movies represent reality should be recognized. The degree to which one wants reality in his movies may vary.
    –The balance should be equal…the main reason I’m affronted is because of the standard trope that “looks don’t matter as much to women”, or “hot chick + ugly guy = YAY”, “ugly chick (or even ordinary looking) + hot guy = BOO”. That’s just bullshit.
    –I would be quite happy with varieties of beauty/handsomeness, rather than the constant presentation of “fashion model beauty”. In fact, I’d be happier, considering I consider a lot of the women considered “beautiful” today to be…not that appealing. I think Renee Zellweger, for instance, is a lot more beautiful than, say, Cameron Diaz or Angelina Jolie.

  6. says

    –The balance should be equal…the main reason I’m affronted is because of the standard trope that “looks don’t matter as much to women”, or “hot chick + ugly guy = YAY”, “ugly chick (or even ordinary looking) + hot guy = BOO”. That’s just bullshit.

    Exactly.

    –I would be quite happy with varieties of beauty/handsomeness, rather than the constant presentation of “fashion model beauty”. In fact, I’d be happier, considering I consider a lot of the women considered “beautiful” today to be…not that appealing. I think Renee Zellweger, for instance, is a lot more beautiful than, say, Cameron Diaz or Angelina Jolie.

    See, that’s just it, and I totally agree. With beautiful male actors, we have pretty boy types, rugged cowboy types, scholarly types, and they’re all considered great-looking and no one’s surprised that some people prefer one type over another. But with women, we have trends, and all the current hot actors tend to look like clones with varied hair colors. Like, right now the fleshy-pouty Jolie face is in, and it’s spawning dozens of Kiera Knightleys and everyone’s getting collagen shot into this and that to achieve the look. But in the 80’s, the more lean and delicate look was in – Michelle Pfieffer, for example – so you had lots of actresses looking like that. There is no question in my mind that different people like different female looks, and preferences don’t shift en masse every generation.

  7. SunlessNick says

    I do think Angelina Jolie is beatiful, but that doesn’t make her type of beauty a beauty standard: Lena Olin, Claudia Black, Freema Agyeman, Grace Park, and Michelle Yeoh are all beautiful, but they’re a diverse looking bunch. They’re also very talented, which is a big part of [i]why[/i] they are beautiful – because talent – really is beautiful.

  8. says

    Also, I recommend this thread for further reading on how the lack of “Ms. Ordinary hooks up with Mr. Hottie” is connected with a damaging real life precept which holds that there’s something suspicious going on when a man “settles” for a woman less good-looking than he is.

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