It seems as if I’ve been seeing a lot of writers portrayed in movies lately. Here I mentioned the difficulty of portraying the writing life on film: it’s just too boring. But that doesn’t keep screenwriters from trying. Screenwriters should at least get the details right, but those details generally seem to escape them as well.
Let’s start with Love Actually, which features Colin Firth as a hack novelist falling in love with his Portuguese house cleaner. (This comes in eighth out of the nine plot lines in the movie, according to this post; I’d rate it a little higher.) In the plot, very little is made out of his being a writer — it just seems to be there to set up the scene in which a gust of wind blows his manuscript pages into a pond, forcing him and the maid to strip to their underwear and hop into the pond to rescue them. This of course makes them fall in love.
Fair enough — the maid looks pretty good in her underwear. But the setup is stupid. I suppose we can believe that a hack writer in 2003 wouldn’t be using a computer. But apparently we’re also supposed to believe that he wouldn’t be making daily copies of his manuscript pages, in an era of cheap home photocopiers. And that’s just idiotic beyond words. This isn’t something he’s doing for creative expression; it’s his job. I haven’t seen anyone remark on this scene; Love Actually offers far easier targets for criticism. But this one never fails to irk me when I’m forced to endure our annual holiday viewing.