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The Controversies Behind Popular Christmas Movies Explained

The opening scenes of “Love, Actually” hammer home the film’s Christmas-adjacent message as Hugh Grant’s narration reminds us that “love is all around us.” The movie follows an ensemble cast of characters on their respective quests to find various types of lasting love. Sweet and tender moments, like those between the widower, Daniel (Liam Neeson), and his grieving stepson, Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), eclipse many of the widespread controversial moments, but the film abounds with problematic plotlines.

In one of many controversial storylines in “Love Actually,” Mark (Andrew Lincoln) realizes he’s in love with Juliet (Keira Knightley), who has just married his best friend, Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Until recently, Mark has only treated Juliet with seething contempt and borderline cruelty. When Lincoln’s character abruptly shows up to pledge his love for Juliet, it doesn’t appear romantic. The moment oozes majorly creepy stalker vibes. 

Mark silently shuffles through cue cards that declare his sudden, undying devotion, and Juliet laughs and appears warmed by the gesture. The movie’s writer-director, Richard Curtis, told Collider that he didn’t recognize the controversy until years later. “I remember someone once saying they would like to interview me about it, and they would be focusing on the stalking scene,” Curtis said. “And I said, ‘Oh, I didn’t know there was a stalking scene.’ They said, ‘Yeah, Andrew Lincoln. That’s, like, top-notch stalking.’ So, slowly but surely, I’ve realized what a dreadful mistake I made.”

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