Love Actually follows the love lives and relationships of 8 different couples.
Set in London and with 5 weeks until Christmas, aging rock star, Billy Mack (Bill Nighy), is forced by his manager, Joe (Gregor Fisher), to put out a cheesy rendition of Love is All Around, which he knows is a dreadful song.
John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page) are porn stars who have to perform various sexual simulation scenes, all the while maintaining a friendly chit-chat.
Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Juliette (Kiera Knightly) have just got married. Their photographer, Mark (Andrew Lincoln) appears stand-offish to Juliette which she puts down to having taken Peter away from him. The truth is somewhat different.
Jamie (Colin Firth) has just discovered that his girlfriend has been cheating on him so he takes a holiday in France to continue his writing. There he meets Aurelia (Lucia Moniz), a Portuguese housekeeper. Although they speak different languages, a bond grows between them.
Daniel (Liam Neeson) has just lost his wife and is now the sole parent of his stepson, Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), who is going through the pains of adolescent love.
Sarah (Laura Linney) is in love with Karl (Rodrigo Santoro) but is held back from forming a relationship due to the dependency of her mentally ill brother.
Sarah’s boss, Harry (Alan Rickman), is in a long-term marriage to wife Karen (Emma Thompson) but is being seduced by his secretary, Mia (Heike Makatsch), and he must decide what to do.
Meanwhile, Colin (Kris Marshall) thinks he’s not getting any sex because British girls are too cold and so travels to the US where he meets several girls.
David (Hugh Grant), the new Prime Minister, is attracted to his secretary, Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), and must decide whether it’s appropriate to pursue a relationship.
Over the following 5 weeks much evolves around each couple, by which time Billy realises that Joe is his one true love.
Adult relationships; love and sex
Love Actually has some violence. For example, Sarah’s brother tries to hit her but is restrained by an attendant.
Love Actually has a lot of sexual references. For example:
- Jamie’s girlfriend can be heard saying, ‘I’m naked and I want you at least twice before Jamie gets home’.
- Colin thinks he’s the God of sex.
- Harry tells Sarah to marry Karl, and have lots of sex and lots of babies.
- Billy gets asked who was the best shag he ever had.
- Mia opens her legs provocatively and tells Harry he can have anything he wants.
- Karen wonders whether she should get a transvestite Barbie or a dominatrix Barbie for their daughter.
- Billy says that even Meat Loaf got laid at least once.
- Billy strips for Michael Parkinson (shown from behind).
- Colin takes a large bag full of condoms with him to the US and says he’s going on the ‘shag highway’. Colin hooks up with 3 women who invite him home to their place. They only have one bed which he’ll have to share. A silhouette is seen through the window of them all taking their clothes off.
- Daniel tells Sam that if he gets to date Claudia Schiffer, Sam would have to make himself scarce as they would want to have sex in every room of the house, including his bedroom.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Love Actually has some substance use. For example:
- Drinking at various events and parties.
- Daniel says that for all he knows, Sam could be injecting heroin into his eyeballs.
- Billy says, ‘Kids, don’t buy drugs, become a pop star and get them for free’.
Nudity and sexual activity
Love Actually has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- John and Judy perform several sex scenes, simulating sex and oral sex. They are both naked and John is told to massage Judy’s breasts.
- Aurelia strips off to her undies to jump into the water.
- There is a large picture of a woman holding her own breasts.
- Sarah and Karl kiss passionately. She undresses and is naked from the waist up while Karl just has underpants on. They are about to have sex but are interrupted.
- Most of the couples kiss at some point.
There’s no product placement in Love Actually.
Love Actually has some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Love Actually is a British comedy with a stellar cast. There is some loose connection between the 8 couples but otherwise the film is a mish-mash of various stories. They are not all happy stories, including subjects such as unrequited love, infidelity and death of a loved one. Due to the adult content of the movie and the nudity and frequent coarse language, the film isn’t suitable for children aged under 15 years and we recommend parental guidance for children aged 15 years.
The main message from Love Actually is that love transcends all.
Values in Love Actually that you could reinforce with your children include listening to your children and respecting their opinions.
Love Actually could give you the chance with talk with your children about how lust and love are different but are often confused as the same thing. And that while sex is an important element of a loving relationship, it isn’t the only thing that’s important. You could also talk about the reasons why sometimes people stray from their relationship, and the real-life consequences of such behaviour.