Remember Christmas? Wow, that was exhausting. Thank heavens it’s finally gone. The stress, the packed flights, the cranky relatives, the cyclical showings of 2003’s dystopian horror flick Love Actually … wait, what?
It’s coming back, you guys. Love Actually’s writer and director, Richard Curtis, has reunited most of the cast of the original film for a 10-minute special, to be released on May 25 in honor of Red Nose Day, which Britain continues to insist is a real thing, against all evidence to the contrary. The project, Curtis told The Hollywood Reporter, will revisit the characters and explain what they’re up to today, 14 years after the original events.
Here’s a spoiler: They’re all motherfucking divorced.
Sorry, no, that’s not quite right. Some of them are just dead, because their respective partners would have pushed them into traffic long ago. Love Actually, after all, was not so much a compilation of love stories as a ghoulish and disturbing display of non-love. If this special aims to be anything close to the “actual” aspect its namesake suggests, it will feature not a syrupy parade of happy endings, but rather a pastiche of richly deserved misery.
Let’s consider the lovestruck individuals whom we last saw in 2003. One of them, Prime Minister David (played by Hugh Grant; he isn’t given a last name, as last names are reserved for serious politicians), is neither divorced nor dead, since he is in jail. The prime minister, you may recall, is a lecherous weirdo whose interest in screwing one of his employees trumped his care for the well-being of the nation he was ostensibly meant to protect, inspiring him to launch into an unhinged rant directed at the president of the United States — a country with whom the United Kingdom’s relationship is special in that, oh my God, you had better not screw it up — to impress said to-be-screwed employee, played by Martine McCutcheon. This is not why he is in jail; that was the result of a bribery scandal six months later.
Or let’s check in on Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who met when Aurelia was paid to cook for Jamie and scrub the pee spatter off the bottom of the toilet bowl in a home that he rented. Their love began when Aurelia stripped off her clothes to jump into a lake in an attempt to retrieve Jamie’s manuscript, at which point he realized she was hot. (It should be noted that she apparently disrobed not to redirect the blood that otherwise might have gone to Jamie’s brain, but presumably to avoid ruining the clothes she was wearing, a hint that perhaps Jamie was not paying her enough to afford new ones.) But she spoke Portuguese and he spoke English, so Jamie did the only logical thing he could think of: He learned enough Portuguese to propose to her at her new job, in front of her family. This was their first conversation, ever.
They wed that month and then, with the help of his improving Portuguese and her steadfast refusal to bother with English, rapidly realized they did not like each other at all, and divorced.
Couple no. 3: Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Mark (Andrew Lincoln), who — wait, my mistake, the movie actually starts with Juliet marrying Peter, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (who has wisely decided not to go anywhere near this sequel). Mark appeared as Peter’s best friend, and rapidly revealed himself to have a serial killer’s obsession with Juliet, keeping a camera zoomed in on her face and body throughout the ceremony and then turning up at the newlyweds’ home on Christmas Eve to proclaim his love — one developed, as with Jamie’s, through a near total lack of conversation throughout their entire relationship — on immortal placards.
Juliet is charmed by this and keeps the proclamation a secret from Peter. Days later, Mark brutally murdered Peter, leaving the body on his and Juliet’s dining room table, which was a thoughtful gift from her parents. Mark thereafter joined David in jail; Juliet has not spoken a word in the 13 years since his trial.
There are others. They will not fare better. But the thing is that we just don’t have to do this. Here is a list of things the world needs: a cure for cancer, more and better nachos, less carbon dioxide, affordable orthodontics, baseboards with soft corners for the prevention of stubbed toes, a Jurassic Park–style revival island stocked only with elephant-size sloths, one good snow day in Washington, D.C. (a personal request), indestructible knees/elbows/hips.
Here is a thing the world does not need: a 10-minute follow-up to a 14-year-old feature film, much less one based on a slew of stories whose only common thread, other than a usually lopsided desire to have sex, was a psychotic misunderstanding of what romance is.
We have one thing, at least, to look forward to: Bill Nighy’s character, Billy Mack, finally professing his love for his manager, Joe (Gregor Fisher). May they live happily ever after.