We need to talk about the most depressing love triangle in Love Actually. Or we don't — we can reminisce about the heartwarming antics of David and Natalie's little courtship, or feel conflicted over Mark's slightly stalker-y "To me, you are perfect" confession. However, around our Christmastime re-watch, our minds float to that conflict with Harry, Karen, and Mia. Because the implication has always been that after overt office flirting, Harry has sex with Mia and cheats on his really cool, loving wife. It was like the worst thing Alan Rickman ever did, and Rickman killed Dumbledore. But wait, did Harry actually sleep with Mia in Love Actually?
This is something that the movie hints at hard, a reality that really snows all over the lovely Christmas crossroads. The biggest hint comes after Harry buys Mia a fancy gold necklace for Christmas, after she purrs on the phone that she wants something pretty for Christmas and "When it comes to me, you can have everything." Bleh. Subtlety is not a virtue with this one.
Anyway, Karen finds the necklace, thinking it's for her, and instead unwraps a Joni Mitchell CD. Her world low-key crumbles as she realize the gift is for someone else. And then the scene cuts to Mia crawling out of bed, sheets rumpled, latching her necklace like the smug home-wrecking witch that she is. The implication from that cut scene is that she was fresh from boning Harry and enjoying her rewards from that liaison. However, let's take a second glance at her once she's crawled out of bed.
OK, that lip-print babydoll tank? First of all, heinous. Actually, it's kind of cute, but it's not the kind of thing you're wearing before or after sleeping with your boss, even if it's just paired with some mistress-certified red panties. As smug and shameless as this girl is, she would not be wearing this docile little night shirt after said tryst. You glow nakedly in the dirtiness of it all — save for a long, sheer, marabou trim robe, if you're especially dramatic. That's the sign. Also your hair is still not in its neat yet shiny and voluminous bob after you're done having sex with someone. It's just not. No, you have some weird cowlick or your bangs are all sweated up sticking to your forehead. You don't look like like that.
Not that I've had experience with this, but um... I understand what the film is trying to imply with that cutaway. I, however, still remain unconvinced. For all we know, he could've just dropped it off as her Christmas bonus or something. Right? Right?
The final verdict? OK, fine, I would say that as a technicality, they probably boinked. That's what the movie wants us to believe. But unless I have the literal receipts of this, receipts that aren't just a girl in weird pajamas putting on her Scarlet Letter, I'm going to believe in my heart that it never came to that. Here is why.
I like to believe theirs was a sexually charged emotional affair that maybe was just about to be consummated, sealed with that necklace. But for whatever reason, maybe the sheer belief that I think he tripped on his own shoelaces on the way to this affair, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that it simply never came to a physical fruition. Really re-watch it, there's such an awkwardness on his end, a real skittishness. I feel like he'd mess this up somehow. I mean, he already did by pursuing it in the first place.
The only other context clue I have for this belief is that Karen is still waiting for Harry at the airport in the closing scene. It's the iciest reception there, no doubt; her claims of "I'm fine, I'm fine" are transparently false, and she looks thoroughly dead-eyed as they leave, resigned to going through the motions. She kisses him goodbye, though, suggesting there's a tentative effort to move through it. If the affair breached that real physical point, I really do believe she would've had the strength to flat-out leave him. Again, it's ultimately all inference and a fierce belief in Emma Thompson's strength as an actor, and frankly she probably still should've left him anyway.
Either way you need to translate the triangle, it's a really dark storyline that has us wanting more for Karen. However, there's at least six other storylines that are less depressing than that saga. Consider that fast-forward button a Christmas blessing.
Images: Universal Pictures (2); Giphy (2)