From its star-studded ensemble to its feel-good message about the state of the world, Love Actually has earned its status as a beloved holiday classic (and a great rom-com, to boot). Still, though, many fans have noted that despite their love for the film, it isn’t perfect. For every adorable preteen love confession or prime minister dance break, there’s a workplace relationship or concerning crush that might not be too romantic in the real world.
Love Actually writer-director Richard Curtis seems to agree. During the Nov. 29 Diane Sawyer Love Actually special, the filmmaker addressed some of the problematic aspects of his 2003 film. “There were things you’d change, but thank God, society is, you know, changing,” Curtis said. “So, my film is bound, in some moments, to feel, you know, out of date.”
When Sawyer asked what, specifically, “makes [him] wince,” Curtis offered a few examples. “I mean there are things about the film — you know, the lack of diversity makes me feel uncomfortable and a bit stupid,” he said.
Curtis also acknowledged that there are “three plots that have, sort of, bosses, and people who work for them [getting together].” Indeed, there are several: Harry (Alan Rickman) pursues an affair with his office secretary. David (Hugh Grant) is the new prime minister, who is quickly drawn to a member of his household staff — he even requests to “redistribute her” after he catches her in an apparent personal moment with the visiting American president. And finally, Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz) are a writer and his housekeeper, who form a close bond without being able to communicate with each other, due to a language barrier.
This isn’t the first time Curtis has reflected on how well his films have (or haven’t) aged. In 2020, he told Newsnight that he “would write different movies now,” per The Independent.
“We are all recalibrating, we are all thinking about things in different ways,” he continued. “We have a really impatient younger generation who’s focusing on things that I never focused on. You know, I’m hopeful.”
Despite the things he’d change about Love Actually today, though, Curtis stands by the film as a whole. “We get thousands of films about serial killers, and there’s only ever been about nine of them,” he said during the special. “And yet, there’ll be a million people falling in love, feeling it’s the most interesting moment of their lives ... I do think the way to think about life is that every day has the potential, in all its simplicity, just to be gorgeous.”