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'Love Actually' As Told Through Its Turtlenecks

This post originally appeared on MamaPop on December 20, 2012. MamaPop is no more, so I am reposting it here. I took the opportunity to fix a few typos, but the post is what I published a year ago.

I watched Love Actually last Friday night. This marked the third or fourth time since Halloween that I had watched it and my reasons for doing so were mostly therapeutic. I had been crying off and on through most of the day and I needed something that would just make me feel good. Love Actually is one of my favorite Christmas-time movies, and watching it helped. Plus, I got to do my research for this post, which I had been planning for a few weeks.

See, the last time I watched it, I suddenly noticed how many turtlenecks were worn in the movie. It was pretty remarkable. I mean, I realize that it’s set in London in December, so obviously warmer clothing is called for. And turtlenecks are not unreasonable. But when you think about the interwoven characters in this movie, and if they were your social circle, you might wonder, “Hey guys…why are we collectively so big on turtlenecks?”

Those particular shirts showed up in almost every scene. Being a sane person, I decided to take note of each one and see if I could reconstruct the story of Love Actually through its turtlenecks.

Opening Montage Turtleneck

First we have the opening montage of the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. And Hugh Grant’s monologue about messages of love coming from the phone calls during the September 11th attacks and whoa, why is my face all wet?


Cheating Wife Turtleneck

We meet Colin Firth’s character, Jamie, whose wife skips out on a wedding because she has a cold. Really, she’s just using the time alone to diddle Jamie’s brother…who apparently has a thing for babes with red noses and chest congestion who mouthe-breathe during sex. Hawt.


Funeral Turtleneck

Liam Neeson’s (Daniel) wife has died after a long illness. People mourn her with warm necks.


Funeral Montage Turtleneck

Daniel’s wife had specific wants for her funeral, including this picture of these turtlenecks.


Vaguely Creepy Boss Turtleneck

Snape plays Harry, the owner of some hip, early 2000s company that probably has something to do with graphic design judging by the looks of it. He’s weirdly invested in both Sarah’s (Laura Linney) crush on Karl and his assistant’s lady bits.


Karl Turtleneck

“I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over all of this sexual tension.”


That’s Not a Turtleneck, It’s a Red Flag

Mia is maybe 25 and shockingly hot. But she doesn’t have a boyfriend, is attracted to her old, married boss, and her eyes get really wide sometimes. Keep the pet rabbits away from her. She cray.


Concerned Stepfather Turtleneck

Daniel is worried about how his stepson, Sam, is handling his grief. He’s vaguely concerned that the 11-year-old is injecting heroin into his eyeballs. He starts crying because dead wives will make you do that and Emma Thompson helpfully responds, “Ew, stop.”


Saying Good Night to Karl Turtleneck

Sarah stays late and refreshes her makeup all for the two seconds at the end of the day where she gets to say good night to Carl. This has been going on for 2.5 years. I think maybe it’s time to step up your efforts, Sarah. Also, the word “burden” is right above the picture of Sarah’s mentally ill brother. I see what you did there, Love Actually.


Saying Good Night Does Not Lead to Sex with Karl, Boss

But thanks for sitting on my desk and grilling me about it. It’s not weird or anything.



Jamie doesn’t know Portuguese, but he knows he loves the new housekeeper that’s helping him out while he recuperates from heartbreak and writes a terrible novel at his French country home.


The Most Reckless Writer Alive Turtleneck

Jamie also doesn’t know about computers or writing your novel not right next to a body of water or even just leaving the rest of the pages inside instead of precariously secured under a small rock.


If Only We Could See Our Subtitles Turtleneck

They’re saying almost the exact same things to each other! Awww! Granted, Jamie appears to have one turtleneck that is his writing-in-the-French-countryside turtleneck, but it’s pretty versatile.


The Turtleneck that I Wear When I Show My Best Friend’s Wife My Creepy Video of Her

Amazingly, Keira Knightley does not frantically try to find the nearest exit when she sees Mark’s collection of close-ups and slow motion shots of her licking icing off of her fingers. Mark takes a walk and his zip-up cardigan becomes the turtleneck of broken-hearted embarrassment.


Thank the Lord Turtleneck

Sam was not injecting heroin into his eyeballs or having a hard time dealing with his mother’s death. Rather, he’s hopelessly in love and will learn to play drums in two weeks so that he can participate in his school’s Christmas pageant and await his crush’s declaration of love. Daniel signs off on this because he knows girls love it when you aren’t just honest with them.


Buy Me Something Pretty Turtleneck

Mia gets increasingly inappropriate with Snape and demands that he buy her something pretty while he’s out Christmas shopping with his wife. Hawt. Snape gets increasingly inappropriate back.


I’m a Douche Turtleneck

“I spent 270 pounds on a necklace for my assistant but you think I bought it for you. No, you get a $15 CD. Merry Christmas.”


Language School Turtlenecks


I Just Realized My Husband Is Cheating on Me Turtleneck


I’m Just Judy and I’m Not Really Sure How Our Plot Line Fits In Turtleneck

These two are adorable, and they know a bunch of people in this movie. But Judy shows up later at the Christmas pageant wearing this same outfit and the timing gets lost on me. Is this a flashfoward? Did they go to the pageant and then kiss on Judy’s doorstep afterward? When is this? I don’t understand.


Sam’s Learning How to Play Drums Turtleneck


We’re the Cutest Turtleneck

The Prime Minister is looking for Natalie by going door to door instead of just calling, I don’t know, anyone and getting Natalie’s address. Because he doesn’t have any resources? Or wants to do this the more difficult way because it will be more rewarding? I don’t know. But he and his companion sing “Good King Wenceslas” to these three and it’s great.


I’m an Extra and I Get to Overhear this Awkward Conversation Turtleneck

Always sort out your marital issues at the kids’ Christmas pageant. What could go wrong?


I’m Claudia Schiffer Turtleneck

It’s so funny that I’m Claudia Schiffer but I’m supposed to be someone else (I think) because Claudia Schiffer was mentioned a few times as Daniel’s potential new mate earlier in the movie!


Whoa, It’s Weird that Everyone at the Arrivals Gate Knows Each Other Somehow Turtleneck

Jamie must have finished his book so he gets to wear a different shirt.


I’m Liam Neeson and I Own a Turtleneck for Every Occasion


There were other turtlenecks that I spotted in crowd shots but I didn’t want to appear too obsessive. And good luck not noticing this whenever you watch this movie from now on.

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