Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Love Actually: Focus on Karen

Oh yes, it is totally that time again. If you don't like it, that's too bad. Karen is played by Emma Thompson... you've probably seen her somewhere: like as Sibyll Trelawney in The Harry Potter films, or as Nanny McPhee in... well, Nanny McPhee. She's a phenomenal actress.

At the very beginning, she's talking to her two children, a girl, Daisy, and a boy, Bernard, who are excited about having just received their parts in the Christmas play. Well, Daisy is. Bernard's kind of an arse. She thinks so, too.
"We've been given our parts in the nativity play, and I'm the lobster."
"The lobster?"
"In the nativity play?"
"Yeah. First lobster!"
"There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Christ?"

I love that Karen helps David with advice on his son. Granted, her advice isn't always very comforting, but that doesn't make it bad. "Get a grip. People hate sissies. No one's ever going to shag you if you cry all the time."

Karen is also the Prime Minister's sister. She calls him up to admonish him - even though he's her big brother, while he's being all patriotic, and she's working on her kid's costumes. She's listening to Joni Mitchell (amazing!) in the background and explains to her husband, Harry, (Alan Rickman, also known as Snape)that Joni taught "your cold, English wife how to feel."

Karen's no fool. She knows Sarah is in love with Karl - and good thing, too, or Sarah never would have danced with him. Karen is also aware that Mia is someone her husband should watch out for. His protestations and "ignorance" don't add up too much: she knows Mia's young and beautiful.

That said, I wonder if Karen knows, when she sees her husband looking at the necklaces that he really is going to buy one - and that it's not going to be for her. I wonder if she doubts at all, until she learns that that is what's happened.
I have to say no, because of her expression of surprise and happiness when she pulls out the necklace - gosh, that would suck.

And then... when seeing the CD? Yeah, good to know her husband listened, and remembered that she likes Joni Mitchell... but the necklace. Gosh, I'm sure any other year, she would have been thrilled that "Mr. But you've always loved scarves" got her something personal... I think that would make it worse, actually.

I also love Karen's reaction at seeing her big brother/the Prime Minister at the children's concert. Oh, and she warned poor Natalie... and I love her expression when she - and the whole rest of the world - sees them making out.

And then, comes what I would call the Ultimatum - when she confronts her husband about giving the necklace. And there, she says one of my favorite lines, a line that I always think of when I think of adultery.
"Would you wait around to find out if it's just a necklace, or if it's sex and a necklace, or if, worst of all, it's a necklace and love? Would you stay, knowing life would always be a little bit worse? Or would you cut and run?"


Melody said...

It's really hard to say which part of Love Actually makes me saddest. There are too many gut wrenching moments. But Karen's story is always so awful to me.

And I think the main thing is that you're watching the thing unfold. There's her husband hanging on the edges of infidelity and instead of walking away...

She's all worried about a lobster costume while her husband decides to change their lives forever for...what point and purpose?

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