It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid…unless you’re the Conservative party. If so, it is apparently time to scrape the very bottom of the Brexit-depleted political barrel, and to draw out, in a characteristically Christmas manner, the gift that no one needed.
Whilst it’s not the first time Johnson has rolled along as the third wheel of a relationship, the role Johnson takes in the sketch is surely not the most logical fit. He’s still PM, isn’t he? One can only imagine that his sketch(y) character emerged from some poor political aide’s attempt to placate BoJo’s desire to dance through No. 10, Hugh Grant-style, like the heartthrob he’s evidently configured as.
But it’s no wonder that the Conservative party were drawn to Love Actually for the last straws of their campaign fodder. It’s a veritable magpie nest of a film, full of sparkly twigs of festive seduction. First off, it’s London-centric, which is the only place that really matters. (Why should there be discussion about borders beyond the London Orbital?) It has secretaries dressed in red slinky slips (oo-er Mrs Claus of my illicit, seasonally-suppressed-and-released-fantasies). It has a glimmering example of interracial (if underage) bliss (Who said Johnson had white supremacist inclinations?). It’s delightfully pre-#MeToo; back in that untroubled era where the PM could be won over by a plate of chocolate biscuits and his ‘staff’ didn’t care that they had their bums pinched by lecherous American Presidents, because the relatively less-lecherous PM saved them through the prioritisation of LOVE, actually, over transatlantic trade. Yay!
Speaking of Hugh Grant, the original political objet d’amour of Love Actually was less than enamoured with Boris’s co-optation of his Downing Street rendition. Evidently, he hadn’t anticipated the emergence of a real-life contender for the position of personality Prime Minister. Because we all know that that was the role Johnson was aligning himself with, even if it wasn’t the one he was playing. Hugh has previously tried to head Boris off in a less than charming way most notably in terming him ‘an over-promoted rubber bath toy’. And it is admittedly strange that Johnson or his campaign wranglers could have detected an iota of similarity between the RP-accented, lovably-roguish-configured, coif-haired, polyamory-performing prime ministers. On this provoking occasion, Grant made his upset known through what has been hailed as a biting retort: he pointed out that Johnson didn’t hold up the sign ‘Because at Christmas time you tell the truth’. Vicious indeed. Perhaps Johnson had missed their joint annual confession of extra-marital activities.
For all Grant’s sizzling objections, the sketch is truthful to the original in a number of ways. Kiera Knightley’s stand-in responds to Johnson’s night-prowling in an equally sappy and asinine manner. Johnson carries a Noughties tape player that is as anachronistic as it was in the original, although perhaps more representative at the symbolic level. The ‘truth’ card the scene omits is replaced with a parenthesised truth following the statement ‘we’ll have Brexit done’ (if parliament doesn’t block it again). Most importantly, the sketch carries the original message of Love Actually: look the other way-towards Christmas- get boozy, get nostalgic and it’ll all be over soon, divine absolution is coming.