It is the time of year when there is nothing on the television. More specifically there is no Elf on Channel 4 this year and we must have a Christmas film to watch.
And we chose 'Love Actually'.
Now, I am slightly conflicted about 'Love Actually'. There are those who despise it as another bunch of Richard Curtis poshos poncing around in an unrealistic vision of the United Kingdom. I am not one of those people, though I can see their point. 'Love Actually' actually does make me laugh and make me feel good and barring a couple of annoying subplots it occupies 2 hours in a pleasant enough way, especially when I am snuggled up on a sofa with my adorable wife.
But I really think the film is a bit fattist.
I know what you will say, it isn't the film, it is just the attitudes of some of the characters in the film and they are horrible people.
The main character around whom these attitudes crystallise is Natalie, played by Martine McCutcheon. Here she is, on the right of this picture, chatting with Hugh Grant (the prime minister) and his assistant.
Natalie is described by assorted characters in the film as being overweight. Look at her! What a porker! irony
The prime minister fancies Natalie from the first time he meets her and eventually decides he wants to know her better so they have this conversation...
Hooray for the prime minister! He is clearly surprised by the 'fat' slur. What a nice man! But a bit later, the nasty US president makes a pass at Natalie and the poor prime minister realises that Natalie is a distraction from the important work of running the country and standing up to Americans. He asks his assistant to move Natalie to a different department.
Towards the end of the film the prime minister comes to his senses regarding Natalie and decides he wants to be with her. It is Christmas Eve, hoorah, and he tracks her down to her parents' house where everybody is on their way to the school pantomime.
Natalie's dad calls her 'plumpy'! Is everybody in the world of 'Love Actually' actually blind or insane?
Now, this is not Richard Curtis saying that Natalie is fat. Though he has cast a clearly not fat actress and had various characters call her fat. It is, I realise, a comment on our culture's obsession with weight and the unhealthy view that a celebrity who is bigger than size zero is fat. I can see that.
But there are plenty if other examples in the film of characters who are fat and who are called fat. One of them is the manager of pop star, Billy Mack...
This is the manager, on the left. He is a sympathetic character but portrayed as a sad loser. Necessary to comment on his size?
And in another subplot, Colin Firth is a writer who falls in love with a Portuguese girl, Aurelia. Early in the film, Aurelia declines a biscuit and there is this dialogue.
So, the writer is one of those irritating people who can eat whatever he likes. Or so he thinks. And Aurelia has a fat sister. Who later on in the film is portrayed as an unattractive bossy girl.
That's her on the left.
And another father comments on a daughter's fatness.
As I said, I realise that these are the characters talking and not the author, the lovely Richard Curtis. But there are a lot of offhand references to the unattractiveness of being fat.
'Come on, Andy,' you may say, 'you're on a diet because you don't want to be fat!'
Which is true, but it's a health thing. Not a looks thing. I will still have this ugly mug once I've lost the weight.
But anyway, all of this would be fine and just character driven if it weren't for the last little bit of the film.
'Love Actually' begins and ends with people meeting in an airport. At the beginning there is a montage of various people meeting and hugging and being glad to see each other, expressing various forms of love.
At the end of the film the various subplots we have been following are rounded off by meetings at the airport. The last one is the prime minister and Natalie greeting each other. This is the nice prime minister who has been surprised by people calling Natalie fat because she obviously isn't and she obviously has developed a bit of a complex about it.
He makes a jokey comment about her weight. And so she has entered another relationship with a horrible person, who seemed to be so nice.
Perhaps I'm reading too much into it.
Other than that it is a jolly good film.