Wednesday

I’ve been thinking about Kris Marshall lately

Not much reason for a random American to think about the British actor except that I’ve been watching Murder in Paradise, the British mystery series he’s been starring in for the past few seasons. He took over as the lead after the original star Ben Miller left the show at the beginning of the third season. To be honest, I still prefer Miller and his character. I think that he’s funnier than Marshall in general and I think that his character–who walked around the Caribbean island in a dark suit and without sunglasses, complaining about how hot and bright it was–was just more entertaining.

Having said that, the show’s sixth season airs next year and Marshall has been on the show for longer than Miller has. The truth is that Marshall has grown on me and though I still will find myself occasionally thinking that the show would be funnier and more entertaining if Miller had stayed, it’s a relaxing and enjoyable show in the cozy mystery tradition.

Also I hope that it’s helped tourism to Guadalupe, where the show is filmed, because it’s a beautiful place.

Now I know form a cursory internet search that Marshall has acted in a lot of things over the years but like most Americans I would guess, I know him for one role: Colin in Love Actually.

For those of you who have forgotten (or just blocked it out) is a twenty-something British jackass in the beginning of the film. Because he’s crude asshole who acts like god’s gift to women, he doesn’t get a lot of dates. In fact women tend to be repulsed by how he acts.

Now in another movie, he would hire someone or meet someone who would take him under their wing and Colin would learn to not be such a jackass and become a little suave, get a little style, change his behavior, learn not to be crude in the workplace, and he would eventually met a woman and blah blah blah. You know how it goes, you’ve seen that movie. Probably a few different times with a few different actors, let’s be honest.

But that’s not what happens in Love, Actually–which for the record I found a loathsome and unfunny movie long before Lindy West’s excellent takedown of the movie was published by Jezebel in 2013. (Though I will admit that I enjoy rereading the article in the same way that some people like re-watching the movie). You see, writer-director Richard Curtis doesn’t see Colin as a vile manchild with toxic ideas and behavior. No, Colin, you see, is one of the heroes of the movie.

According to Colin, the problem is English women. If he goes to America, women there will get him. They’ll find him charming because of his accent, you see. So he gets on a plane to Wisconsin. At a bar he meets her and her roommates who are so charmed by his accent that the three women it is implied have an orgy with him.

Then at the end of the movie he returns to England, with a hot chick for him and her sister in tow for his friend. Because men like Colin don’t need to grow up or smarten up, no, they just need to find stupid American girls and all is well.

I was reminded of this watching the fifth season of Death in Paradise as the divorced Humphrey Goodman, played by Marshall, is trying to date again and his awkward interactions with women. There is an honesty to those interactions, which may be funny and sometimes played for laughs, but there is an actual truth to those interactions which is completely missing from the adolescent sex fantasy that is Love Actually. And I’m not saying that I think that the plot in Death in Paradise is brilliant, but there is a reality to it.

Reality seems like such a small thing to ask for sometimes, but there we are.

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