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I feel it in my fingers. I feel it in my toes. I feel the need to defend a man who gets a lot of flack. Mark, better known as “the guy with the poster boards,” is a smaller character in a great movie that I am sure you’re more than familiar with at this point.
Love Actually is a Christmas classic. I have watched it hundreds of times and each viewing brings a familiar warmth. I typically agree with many of John’s takes but felt compelled to write this rebuttal after seeing so many comments agree with him. I want to offer a different viewpoint because 1. it is my second favorite Christmas movie, 2. lively and respectful debate should be encouraged, and 3. Mark gets absolutely crushed on the internet for no reason.
Let’s get the biggest thing out of the way first. Yes, Mark made his move in a dick way and it probably wasn’t the best avenue to express one’s feelings. To confess your love to your best friend’s wife in secret isn’t… great. That being said, the heart wants what the heart wants, man. I am firmly of the belief that one should be open and honest about their feelings. Life is too short to waste and if you love someone, you tell them. In the grand scheme of things, this little thing we call life can seem small or lonely. But finding that one person who brings a little more meaning and purpose to it all is one of the few things we have.
Earlier on in the movie, before the infamous poster board scene, we find out that Mark is a good friend and a good best man. I mean, c’mon. He hired Brazilian prostitutes for his boy’s stag night. Who cares that they turned out to be men, the point is he put in the effort to throw his best friend one hell of a sendoff. Once at the wedding, he takes it a step further by secretly planting musicians and a choir to sing and play the new couple out of the church. That is a hell of a move. A true friend, if you ask me.
We move onward and find that Mark runs a successful art gallery. He has been asked by his best friend and now Juliet to provide some wedding footage after Juliet is unsatisfied with the professional she originally hired. After some awkward dialogue, we find out through subtle cues that Mark is in love with Juliet.
Taking a breather from discussing the movie, I just want to ask each one of you to think about the real world. I’d be shocked if any of you hadn’t had something similar happen in your own lives. Crushes form whether you want them to or not. Sometimes you like the wrong person. Sometimes that person is your friend’s ex or current significant other. I’ve had friends try and steal the women I was dating (or had dated) and I’ve unfortunately developed feelings for someone a friend was dating at the time. We’ve all been there. In real life, we should be mature and open with our friends but as John pointed out, this is a movie so some suspension of disbelief is necessary.
Okay, back to the movie. We get a great line I think we can all relate to. Mark looks back at Juliet and says, “It’s a self-preservation thing, you see.” I get it, man, I really do. And to anyone who still thinks the one moment later on in the movie makes Mark a bad guy, what do you think of him putting his own happiness second and his friend first for presumably years, solely out of self-preservation?
Now we get to the moment of truth. This scene has been dissected countless times so I don’t feel the need to do it here, but I will point out the one part everyone gets wrong. Mark does admit his feelings in a rather shitty way. Additionally, using the excuse of “just because it’s Christmas” and “at Christmas you tell the truth” is admittedly ridiculous. However, just because it’s ridiculous doesn’t mean it isn’t still valid. My point here is that his confession was never meant to be some conniving attempt at stealing his best friend’s wife. In fact, he states in his second and third cue cards that with any luck, next year he’ll be dating a beautiful woman. He doesn’t confess out of some immoral or ulterior motive. He confesses because he actually believes that he needs to tell the truth and admit his feelings because it is Christmas. He doesn’t hope to win her over from Peter and he isn’t trying to manipulate anything. He just thinks it is time to be honest. Ridiculous? Absolutely. Is he an asshole or terrible? Not at all.
“But Andrew, what about the kiss they have after?”
Well, after he confesses his feelings, he walks away. He is satisfied with coming clean and has no expectations for anything more. He doesn’t ask Juliet to leave and he never implies that Juliet should be with him instead. Just that he does and always will love her. Juliet is then the one who chases after him and kisses him. Ignoring that Juliet is probably the worst one here, what is the first thing that happens after the kiss? Juliet goes back in the house and Mark doesn’t even attempt to chase or persuade. No begging. No attempt to create separation. Just satisfaction. Our hero – yeah, that’s right, I’m calling him a “hero” – says with a coy smile, “Enough. Enough now.” He’s accepted his fate. The kiss was enough. His confession was enough. It’s done and he can move on. If you ask me, Mark handles the whole thing very maturely. Given the same scenario, about 45 percent of men today would have left the kiss pissed off, gone to the local pub, gotten drunk, and then texted Juliet at 1:42 a.m., “Whatever, you aren’t even that hot anyway.”
So no, Mark isn’t some horrible guy. He’s just a guy in love. As we can see in the closing airport scene, Juliet and Peter are still very happy together, leading me to believe “this little forbidden romance” did end at the doorstep. Mark handles the whole thing rather well and the internet needs to put its pitchforks away. The movie is timeless and when you watch it this year, maybe think about my side for a change. .