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Amid all of the intertwining storylines throughout Richard Curtis' Love Actually, one of the stories that didn't really get the warm and fuzzy closure treatment of all the others is that of Richard and Karen. After all of these years of the definitive truth eluding audiences, writer/director Curtis has finally revealed the fate of the embattled couple. Spoiler alert: the couple winds up staying together, but it's not pretty.
Curtis, who was watching the film at a midnight screening this weekend, hadn't seen the film since its 2003 premiere. But the distance of time hasn't dimmed his memory of the decisions he made involving his revolving door of characters – especially Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson's dramatically charged married couple. THR found the scoop on their fate, as it was revealed in a tweet from Curtis' partner, Emma Freud, as follows:
While it wasn't said in so many words in the film, you could tell that this was the reality of Richard and Karen's lives together. Though, to be fair, Rickman's Richard making overtures towards his secretary, and Thompson's Karen trying to cope with a slowly growing sense of abandonment could have very easily ended their marriage. Even in the end, when the two reunite at Heathrow Airport, their meeting is tinged with tension. It feels like the two of them could have been seeing each other for the holiday, post hypothetical divorce. The fact that the two didn't split is a credit to their character, even after learning the answer to another important question left in the wake of Love Actually's events: Did Richard ever sleep with his secretary?
In another tweet, Emma Freud confirmed that despite her protestations, Richard Curtis considers it Love Actually canon that Richard did in fact sleep with Mia, his tempting secretary. As if Colin Firth's girlfriend cheating on him in the beginning, or Laura Linney's choice to forego a romantic relationship to take care of her family weren't sad enough, we end up learning that Richard really is the heel he lead us, and his wife, to believe he was. Though when you think about it, Curtis' decision to include this fate depicted a type of love we don't see enough of in films: the love that keeps it together for the kids.
With every sort of love, from casual flings to that of a father and a son, with a couple romantic interludes in-between, Richard and Karen's relationship is one of the more complicated scenarios on display. There's no easy answers when someone you love betrays you, especially when children are involved, so it wouldn't be a shock to have the two characters break up. However, if you know Richard Curtis' style, you already know that he doesn't cheap out when it comes to emotional punches. It's for this reason that Love Actually is a much deeper film than most people give it credit for, and it's also why we can never listen to Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" the same way again.
Love Actually is available on DVD and Blu Ray, as well as Netflix Streaming. Try watching it again, or for the first time, with this knowledge in mind.