Maps of the Heart Nutshell: HelluvaGreatGuys Love HotYoungBabes, Actually. A Romantic Comedy for Men.
Love Actually opens with a warm & fuzzy montage at Heathrow Airport with the tagline: “Love is all around.” This is counterfuge, making us think it will be a movie about how, well, love is all around. The tagline should be amended to: HYBs (Hot Young Babes) are all around for HGGs (Helluva Great Guys), which all men are, in this world. Or HGGs deserve HYBs.
Here’s what’s interesting: this romantic comedy isn’t for women at all. Writer/director Richard Curtis co-opts the rom-com entirely for men. Curtis creates a fun, pornography-filled world where HGGs hook up with HYBs, over and over. And over. Women are cast as the HYBs/secretaries versus older women/mothers/fools that don’t appreciate a HGG when he’s right in front of them. Curtis gets an automatic demotion for casting Emma Thompson (in a thankless role) as a good woman dumped by an arseholic man for no good reason.
In fact, if ever HGGs wanted to feel guilt-free encouragement about hooking up with HYBs, this is the film to see. Like “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” there are four middled-aged HGGs who get the HYBs (and one who doesn’t), and four young HGGs who get the HYBs (and one who doesn’t). And one very young HGG-in-training who gets the HYB.
Middle -aged Men
1. Colin Firth: HGG Writers (like Richard Curtis!) deserve foreign HYB secretaries, especially those who strip to leap into large ponds to find his wayward papers! He leaves his entire family on Christmas after only seconds in their company to return to the HYB, with the immortal words: “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do!”
2. Hugh Grant: HGG Prime Ministers deserve HYB secretaries, too. Added bonus—he likes “chubby” women (apparently defined as any female over a size 2). Grant is such a HGG he moves his secretary to a different position so as not to let his loins do the talking, but in an important lesson to shy women everywhere, his secretary sends him a Christmas card chastely professing her love. Laura Linney, take note. (see below)
3. Alan Rickmen: even grumpy HGGs deserve HYBs—a secretary, AGAIN. Even grumpy men who have AWESOME wives (Emma Thompson) are allowed to make them suffer cruelly for aforesaid HYBs. But Emma has committed her own crimes—her clothing is considered dowdy.
I actually thought this would be the one segment where the grumpy curmudgeon realizes his wife is a GWW (Great Wonderful Woman)—but GWWs (of a similar age to their partner) don’t exist in Richard Curtis’s world, only HYBs (and cold, pompous sexless head mistresses who are lesbians, natch.) Rickman and his HYB secretary flirt shamelessy at work, on the phone and at the Christmas party in full view of everyone, including his wife—and he STILL ends up with the HYB.
Note: This is against all movie conventions—complete arseholes usually NEVER get the great girl… do they? In any other decent, sane movie, surely this would be the man who’d get kicked out on his arse while GWW Emma Thompson rode off in the sunset with her own HGG.
4. Liam Neeson: HGG Widowers deserve HYBs—especially supermodels.
5. Bill Nighy: The one HGG who shows it’s not always about the HYB. Well, it is, but not on Christmas Night, which he decides to spend with his longtime HGG friend & manager. They decide to get pissed and watch porn like HGGs do. Note his Christmas music video with women in skimpy Santa Clause outfits and close-ups on bouncing breasts, spread legs, etc. Nighy is still obviously a HGG and his song hits #1.
1. HGG who goes to the United States to find HYBs (a cheap ploy to appeal to the U.S. market?)—and does find them. Many of them. In Wisconsin.
2. HGG who’s an actor’s stand-in & simulates sex (female breast-focused segments, “humor” with the topless or naked HYB/actress—while he’s either fully dressed or well covered, usually by her).
3. HGG who loves Laura Linney (a ‘foolish’ woman who forever wastes her chance at True Love with a HGG due to co-dependent caring for her mentally handicapped brother.) Added bonus for male viewers: even Laura Linney goes topless. However, this relationship provides one nod to women viewers, or perhaps gay HGGs when this man temporarily strips down to his skivvies, clarifying that Linney has not only lost a truly HGG but one hot tamale.
4. HGG who weds a HYB (Keira Knightley).
5. HGG who wants to wed HYB/Keira and doesn’t on account of he’s best friends with her husband, and men are loyal and thoughtful that way. He transfers the heart on his sleeve to cue cards “because at Christmas you tell the truth.” (Apparently all other 364 days are a liar’s paradise). She realizes he is another HGG and gives him a regretful smooch. So many HGGs, so little time.
Very Young Men
1. Liam Neeson’s 11-year old son, a HGG-in-training, falls for a HYB. His father teaches him that no HYB is out of a HGG’s league! Note: HGG are no fools—when they meet a HYB, they will miraculously run through countless security checkpoints at international airports, risking life & limb for a peck on the cheek. Truly, the world of HGGs is inspiring for us all.
Richard Curtis’s map: HGGs all deserve HYBs? Even if they’re arseholics married to Emma Thompson? Really?
Maps of the Heart: Perhaps, like the Grinch, Mr. Curtis’s heart could grow a few sizes. Amongst this sea of relentlessly misogynistic flotsam, he wrote this line for a woman spurned by her husband (for his HYB secretary): “Since when did my bottom stop being my bottom and turn into Britain’s second largest seaport”? (That would be LIVERPOOL. I Googled it.) And then he cast Emma Thompson to say it, as she stares dejectedly into a mirror. True, it was edited out of the movie, but he wrote it, filmed it and added it to the DVD extras.