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For my 200th review and with the festive season nearly upon us I thought I'd review my favourite Christmas film Love Actually, written and directed by Richard Curtis. Released in 2004 I went to see it at the cinema and loved it and it has been a must see at Christmas time ever since (sometimes in the summer too as 12 months is a long time to wait for Christmas!)
This film has a large cast and many sub plots which keep surprising you with the links between the characters. Friends, family and lovers all relationships are covered within this film which starts with 5 weeks to go until Christmas. The countdown to Christmas continues through the film as we become involved with the characters and how love is affecting their lives. Hugh Grant plays the Prime Minister and his dancing is one of the films many highlights.
The majority of the cast are well known actors and it's great to have so many well known actors in the same film as it's quite unusual in this respect.
Comedy is highly featured in the film with Rowan Atkinson and Kris Marshall my favourites, Rowan Atkinson is only in a couple of scenes but leaves me wishing that he had been featured a bit more. Kris Marshall playing Colin goes to America in search of girls after failing to find love in the UK, he never fails to make me laugh. Colin Firth as Jamie is one of my favourite characters his struggle with the language barrier are great to watch.
Romance is the central to many of the characters and although the film covers only 5 weeks having lots of characters and counting down to Christmas makes this film very absorbing when watched for the first time. I enjoyed it even more once I had watched it a few times and knew how all the characters were connected. Other sides to love are also explored with a sister caring for her mentally ill brother, the grief of losing a partner and the desperation when a partner strays.
With a Christmas theme this film follows Bill Nighy's character trying as a 'has been' to make it to Christmas number one. This involves an appearance from Ant and Dec although the mentioning of Blue as the rivals for Christmas number one does date the film! Kids rehearsing for their Christmas play and a Christmas work do make this film very British and easy to relate to.
I also really love the soundtrack to this film, it has a mixture of artists from Joni Mitchell to the Sugarbabes and includes some Christmas songs. I always get this CD out to listen to Christmas approaches, it is very relaxing and as I know the film so well it is like watching it just listening to the music.
This film is perfect for a girls night in, watching with your partner or on your own with a drink and a pile of Christmas presents to watch. It will make you laugh and possibly cry and will leave you believing that love actually is all around.
According to film-makers all movies are successful and worth to watch. According to the public half of those are decent, but when it comes to the critiques that percentage falls very close to hitting zero. It's hard to find a movie that even from a completely objective standpoint is worth watching and remembering. While in frantic search for such a film, a great bunch of British actors, a great director and an even greater writer decided to show the World what a good production actually is supposed to look like, and they entitled it Love Actually.
The introduction is like no other movie has ever seen; while heart warming, still right to the point and sharply realistic. The narrator's voice, Hugh Grant, who later on also plays the role of British Prime Minister, just adds to the impact. Being advertised as a romantic comedy, one would expect the storyline to be the regular so well known boy meets girl, they fall in love and live happily ever after; a few main characters doing their best job to sustain the interest of the viewer for 120 minutes. Love Actually defies all preconceptions about the genre offering every actor the chance to become the main character, thus unfolding micro stories inside a simple but beautiful concept - that love actually is everywhere. Obviously good writing and a complex story needs great acting which is provided by not only Britain's most famous actor, Hugh Grant, but Keira Knightly, Bill Nighy, Rowan Atkinson and many others. Having such actors featured, British humour is hardly missing. As the story unfolds the viewer is presented not with a sappy love story, but "the real deal"; love and relationships of all kinds going through their best and worst moments.
It's something I rarely say and not because I'm a Grinch-hearted critique, but because reality shows that nowadays too few really good movies are made, but "Love Actually" is actually the movie that I would best describe as simply beautiful and romantically realistic. How does such a masterpiece end? That is something you will have to find out for yourself.
I have a Christmas tradition - one that I suspect is shared by many people unwittingly! Every Christmas I pick a night near to the big day and I banish my loved ones or scurry away to a room with a lockable door and I wrap my presents for everyone - and while I do it I have a glass (or three, after trying to grapple with some very large presents and Clinton's utterly useless wrapping paper and Waitrose's equally naff sellotape this year), and I watch Love Actually.
Released in 2003, this is to me the height of the great writing of Richard Curtis, as well as a flawless display of the wide range of acting, writing, comedic and artistic talent that Britain should be proud to call its own. I first saw this film whilst laid low by unrequited love, and with two friends, one male, one female in a similar situation to myself. We basically lost it by the time Andrew Lincoln runs from his own apartment after his best friend's wife realises his true feelings for her, and didn't stop until the end - so about a good hour. The other friend in the same cinema jaunt, the poor fellow, looked straight ahead in true bloke style throughout having two near-sobbing females sat around him. Poor chap, I doubt he ever got over it.
Every time I see this film I fall in love with it again, and indeed Mr Rarr said the other day that it is the only rom com that blokes are allowed to like. I told him that he would be banished to the pub whilst I indulged in my favourite Christmas tradition while his present were wrapped, which instantly inspired puppy dog eyes because he wanted to see it too.
It is a film that completely captured my heart, humour and empathy from the first time I saw it and I doubt that I will ever cease to relish the chance to see it - indeed it is one of those rare films that you make yourself wait to watch so that some of the aspects retain their humour and are revealed to you almost anew as the film plays out. So if you don't mind, here's why I love this brilliant example of British film so much.
Written by comedy legend Richard Curtis, Love Actually features an ensemble cast that boasts some of the finest British talent you could wish for, all in one tale. It is December, Christmas is looming in London and ten tales of love, Christmas, family and life start to take shape, with tendrils of acquaintances, family and friends starting to link these very different tales.
We open to Hugh Grant voicing over scenes of families, friends and loved ones greeting one another at Heathrow. Among what he says is that, when the planes hit the Twin Towers, to his knowledge, the final calls were never of hatred or revenge, but of love. His speech is touching without being soppy, and the scenes shown of people so delighted to be reunited emphasise the truth behind his words.
We then see Billy Mack (Bill Nighy). The once-successful rock star lured out of an enforced semi-retirement with one last crack at the big time with a forced Christmas hit reworked to Wet Wet Wet's Love Is All Around - it is terrible and he knows it. We see him first in the recording studio, and shortly after in the radio interview not just admitting but brazenly insisting that his record is s*** and his miserable life mostly consists of his "friendship" with his fat, common manager, Joe. Instantly Billy Mack's humour sets the very British tone for this film and it is a great performance by Nighy.
Soon into the film we see the wedding of Juliet and Peter (Kiera Knightley and Chiwetel Ejiofor). The young couple have a beautiful ceremony that is soon complemented by an additional treat inspired by the humour and love of surprises of the best man, Mark (Andrew Lincoln). The wedding moves on to the ceremony, where we see Sarah, Laura Linney, who we will later see at work, question Mark about his seeming infatuation with the groom.
Meanwhile, Daniel, played by the utterly brilliant Liam Neeson, is trying to come to terms with the early loss of his beloved wife. As well as dealing with a stunningly portrayed loss of the woman he loves, Daniel is worried about the mental state of his step son, Sam, played flawlessly by the then-child actor Thomas Sangster. A heartstring-tugging phone call to his friend Karen shows his worries, obviously exaggerated in that very British comedic way of laughing through the tears, that he might be in his room shooting drugs into his eyeballs when really Daniel's unspoken concern of not helping the boy through his own loss is very clear.
Karen (Emma Thompson) has a story of her own. Married to a successful American businessman, Harry (Alan Rickman), she also has a family and is the ultimate Mum - keeping the whole show running and keeping up all appearances but not in an unlikeable, Stepford Mom style, but with brilliant British humour. She is instantly likeable as is her husband, played brilliantly with dry humour by Rickman. But a situation at his office soon threatens to disrupt their hard-worked-for family life and completely devastate Karen.
There's a new Prime Minister moving into Number 10, Hugh Grant as David having recorded the introductory voice over. He meets Martine McCutcheon's Natalie on his first day and instantly realises he is attracted to the bumbling tea lass who inadvertently swore in front of the new Prime Minister and then, kicking herself, made the situation worse by doing it again. David's light sense of humour put her at ease and the chemistry between the two was obvious.
Jamie (Colin Firth), having left his ill wife in bed to attend the wedding, comes home to see his brother in his home - picking up some CDs. The true reason for his visit ruins his own home life and he spends much of December in his French cottage, where he meets his new Portugese housekeeper, Aurelia, with whom he cannot converse in the slightest due to their mutual lack of language skills yet with whom he spends most of his time, cut off from virtually everybody else as he deals with betrayal.
While her boss's situation develops, we also see the same happen for Sarah as her infatuation with a colleague is not so much noticed as directly brought up by her employer. But Sarah has a significant part of her life that she either feels she must, or she inadvertently lets, keep her away from a fulfilled life of her own.
John and Judy (Martin Freeman and Joanna Page)are body doubles, working together while the film crew on a film set get the lighting right for film sets. So, basically, after saying hello and exchanging comments about the weather, they end up naked and very familiar with one another! But again their manners and chemistry shine through and the British humour of these sweet scenes isn't Carry On like but instead really touching.
Then there's Colin (Kris Marshall). Utterly hopeless and virtually undatable in the UK, he convinced himself that hot American girls will love an English guy and hatched a plot to run off to America. His friend tells him he is insane but nothing will deter the hormonal power of young lust so Colin duly departs English shores convinced of the infallibility of his theory.
Well you already know that I love this film. Here's why: this is what is best about British acting, humour and film making all in one glorious, multilayered example. The way the stories start to mesh together is beautifully done and not clichéd, and the acting is astonishing. Liam Neesom as Daniel is brilliant, emotive and so, so genuine. Andrew Lincoln's predicament is executed elegantly and again emotively but without any undertones of betrayal, just honesty. Karen's story is truly moving and played so truthfully by Emma Thompson, and Colin Firth's bumbling Britishness is beautifully deployed. The pace, story, conclusion, music, humour, everything, is in its perfect place and this film never fails to make me well up and laugh at the same time. Nighy is hilarious, particularly when filmed in a scene with Ant & Dec on "live" kids TV as per usual refusing to pretend and play the showbiz game any more, and Kris Marshall brings a puppy-like humour to his roll that you can't help but adore even though he is basically a Grade A British pillock. Throw in a fantastic comic turn by a cameo-performing Rowan Atkinson and you will never fail to laugh through any tears of empathy this gorgeous film evokes.
Beautifully cast, beautifully written and beautifully acted, Love Actually has become as much a part of Christmas for me as has the tree and the turkey, and I hope one day I will be showing it to my kids and grandbrats, to show them that this is British film at its very best - utterly sublime, hilarious and above all, charming.
You can get this via Amazon for less than £4. Produced by Universal and with a 15 certificate.
Love Actually is a 2003 British film of the romantic comedy genre. The plot interweaves several different stories with most of them having some link to each other shown at the end of the film.
Peter and Juliet are getting married and Peter's best friend Mark organised a beautiful ceremony. His affection towards his best friend and lack of affection towards his new wife makes people wonder if he in love with Peter. This supposition is explored throughout this particular story and doesn't turn out quite how one expects.
Daniel has just lost his wife and is finding it hard to cope with his grief and that of his stepson Sam's grief as well. He speaks at length with his friend Karen to get advice on how to deal with the 11 year old who has distanced himself so much from him since his mother's death. Does he get through to Sam and when he does how can he help him with his interesting and surprising problem?
Has been rock singer Billy Mack, with the help of his long term manager Joe released a Christmas song hoping a number one will revive his failing career after years of substance abuse and addiction. His brash manner is often his un-doing when being interviewed on TV or radio in particular comments such as "Kids, don't buy drugs!" Then adding "Become famous, you'll get 'em for free!" much to the horror of people like Ant and Dec and other famous personalities. Manager Joe watches on at Billy's behaviour but what is the special bond these two have that makes Joe put up with Billy calling him "fat" and "ugly"?
David has just been elected Prime Minister of Britain and is introduced to his household as he moves into Number 10. Amongst the staff is another new member of the house, Natalie and there seems to be an instant attraction between them. Things seem to sour though when the married US President is visiting and the PM sees him stroking Natalie's face whilst he's out of the office briefly. Has this spoilt their budding romance?
Jamie is a writer who finds his brother bedding his girlfriend so he goes off to his French country home to lick his wounds and finish a book. Here he meets the Portuguese maid Aurelia who can't speak a word of English. With Jamie unable to communicate with Aurelia how on earth is anything going to get done and how on earth is their relationship which seems to be blossoming away from employer and employee going to get off the ground?
Harry and Karen are happily married with two kids. Harry runs a design agency and has a new PA Mia. Mia has set her sights on her new boss and doesn't seem to want to take no for an answer. Mia is organising the office Christmas party and this seems like her perfect opportunity to get Harry under the mistletoe and make him fall for her. Does love blossom here or will Harry choose his wife over his seductive PA?
Colin is trying very hard to romance English girls but is getting nowhere. He has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth. He declares to his best friend Tony that he's going to the US to meet girls out there as they're guaranteed to be friendlier than English girls.
Sarah works for Harry and is love with the firm's creative director Karl. She doesn't have the nerve to ask him out but when they do seem to get their act together they keep being interrupted by phone calls from Sarah's brother Michael who is in an institution. Will their romance ever get off the ground?
John and Judy meet on the set of a film where Tony works in production. They are body doubles and have to simulate having sex on screen. Whilst doing so they get into conversation and even when naked on screen they find it very easy to talk to each other so agree to try to date each other. Unfortunately when fully clothed, they are shy and lost for words, how and do they get over this?!
On then there's Rufus, who is he?
Ok so it seems I've given away a lot of the plot but hey, it's a blooming long film and I didn't want to miss out any of the key stories of the film as they make up the whole.
The film stars a plethora of big name British actors (oh and a few non Brits) including Alan Rickman as Harry, Hugh Grant as David, Colin Firth as Jamie, Emma Thompson as Karen, Keira Knightley as Juliet, Martine McCutcheon as Natalie, Laura Linney as Sarah, Bill Nighy as Billy, Kris Marshall as Colin, Liam Neeson as Daniel Rowan Atkinson as Rufus and the fabulous Thomas Sangster as young Sam.
Of this mixture of stories I probably most enjoyed the one of David and Natalie as Prime Minister and staff member and Daniel and Sam and grieving father and stepson.
Grant plays himself which was rather charming for a new Prime Minister and his scenes with McCutcheon were really fun to watch. It's always good to see Britain get one over on the US and in one scene in particular this was quite hilarious and even more satisfying as Grant puts the US President in his place in front of the press.
Thomas Sangster was adorable as the 11 year old with a problem many adults have immense difficulty dealing with yet we see him bonding with his step-father as they resolve the issue together. I thought the chemistry between Neeson and Sangster was pretty amazing.
Rickman and Thompson's story was very touching as you see the wife discovering quite by accident that her husband has bought a very expensive and intimate gift for someone and expecting it's for herself, she opens it excitedly to find it's just a Joni Mitchell CD. The following scenes are heart-breaking where she tries to compose herself before going to the school Christmas show with the family. I found myself intensely disliking the character of Mia (Heike Makatsch) from the start even before I realised the boss she was so blatantly flirting with was married. It's obvious that the character of Harry is not reciprocating her advances yet she keeps on at him until he foolishly caves and any sympathy you have for him sort of disappears. It makes you also wonder, if a senior employee can get done for sexual harassment why can't a junior employee get done for the same if it's against a senior member of staff?
I have to also say that the story of Jamie and Aurelia was very heart-warming. Watching them trying to communicate through gestures was really amusing and in one scene where Jamie's type-written pages from his book go astray and they're trying to retrieve them she says out loud in Portuguese (which we see in subtitles obviously) "What kind of idiot doesn't make copies?" and he says out loud at the same time "I should have made copies!"
I found the love triangle between Peter, Juliet and Mark quite intriguing, mostly because we hardly see anything of Peter on screen really.
As far for the stories intertwine with each other, it sort of comes out during the film, with Mark being the owner of the gallery where Mia organises the company Christmas party, Karen is the sister of the new PM David, Tony is a production assistant on the set where John and Judy meet and he's also Colin's best friend who tries to dissuade him from going to the US. Karen is friends with Daniel and most of the characters meet up at the end of the film at the school Christmas pageant aside from Billy and his manager Joe.
Love Actually is (mostly) a feel good film which is perfect for Christmas viewing. I am keeping this in my permanent collection as it's a film I aim to watch again.
The DVD was not overly heavy with extra features with just the following selection available:
* Music actually
* Behind love actually
* Some trailers actually
The trailers were not related to this film at all so I'll skip that bit completely. Music actually features the main song from the film which is Billy Mack's fictional number one from the film "Christmas is all Around" music video - a cover of "Love is all Around" which runs for 4 minutes along with 5 other songs including Eva Cassidy's Songbird, Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now and Olivia Olson's All I want for Christmas with intros by Richard Curtis.
Behind Love Actually includes deleted scenes from the film discussed by Richard Curtis before showing them. I enjoyed watching these but understood that there just wasn't time to include them all in the actual film which runs at over two hours as it is. There's also an audio commentary to go along with the film which is ok if you want to sit through the whole film with someone talking over it (not overly keen on this personally). Then there a bit on The Storytellers which starts off by telling us that Love Actually brings together the team behind Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill.
As well as the above, there's the usual scene selection and subtitles selection features. Subtitles were only available in English.
Overall I'm quite happy to give Love Actually a decent 4.5 out of 5 stars. The fact that there were so many stories to try and keep up with made it a little difficult to keep track of what was going on and at least a couple of them could have been dropped to have made an exceptional impact on my personally but then again other viewers might find they preferred some of the stories to others.
Cast: Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley, Rowan Atkinson, Martine McCutcheon, Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln, Lucia Moniz, Billy Bob Thornton, Rodrigo Santoro, Claudia Schiffer, Martin Freeman, Joanna Page, Thomas Sangster
Director/writer: Richard Curtis
Producer(s): Duncan Kenworthy, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
Music: Craig Armstrong
Cinematography: Michael Coulter
Duration: 135 minutes
Certification: 15 (some nudity)
One of the funniest conversations from the film, moments after Colin (who's working at a wedding reception as a waiter) insults the food saying the item he's serving is awful, tasting some then spitting it out and putting it back on the tray whilst trying to chat up Nancy:
Colin: What do you do Nancy?
Nancy: I'm a cook.
Colin: Ever do weddings?
Nancy: Yes, I do
Colin: They should've asked you to do this one.
Nancy: They did.
Colin: God, I wish you hadn't have turned them down.
Nancy: I didn't
Colin: (embarrassed giggle) Right (quick exit)
This movie came out in 2003, and I've made it part of my advent traditions to watch it ever since. It's a feel good, lighthearted romp, complicated and clever enough to be well worth repeated watches.
The premise of the story, or rather, set of stories, is that love can be found in every place. The start of the film is Hugh Grant (who plays the new Prime Minister) saying that whenever he feels down, he likes to watch the arrivals gate at Heathrow - reminding that when disaster strikes, people call their loved ones, not for revenge - and saying that he feels that when push comes to shove, love actually is all around. Then we see a number of couples and how their lives intertwine, how love grows and changes but is fundamentally ever present.
The film is a 15 certificate, this is because there's a lot of swearing and nudity.
So, why do I love this film? Partly it's the acting - as you'd expect from an all star cast like this, the acting is superb. I recognise the characters and the range of emotions utterly. I adore Liam Neeson as stepdad, Emma Thompson is precisely the mother I want to be, and so on. Partly it's the fact that it's all so realistic. Small words and acts of love do happen all around us all the time, and this is a nice reminder.
Partly, it's that the ends aren't all tied up. Normally, I love an ending, and there are particular endings that I love. However, there is one pairing in the film that I just can't make up my mind what happens next, each time I watch I change my mind. The film ends, as it began, in the arrivals hall at Heathrow airport, which is a nice touch, too.
As for the extras. Bill Nighy's character has released a single in an attempt to get to number 1. The video for the single is included on the DVD and it is hilarious. If you've seen the film, and are pondering the DVD, get it for the single! There are outtakes too, and I can quite see why they're outtakes, although I love the completely deleted relationship between the headteacher and her partner, so I'm glad I saw that. Then there is a section on music, which is quite interesting, especially the bit about their 10 year old singer. The Bill Nighy single is the best by far though.
Love Actually is the ultimate love story, as it contains not one "Boy meets Girl" story, but ten, with some being more conventional than others. The film begins six weeks before Christmas and each of these ten stories unfold over those six weeks. Billy Mack and Joe are a rock star/manager pairing who want to release a Christmas number one; Mark is the best man at his friend Peter's wedding, which is inconvenient as he is in love with Juliet, the bride; Jaime is a man who moves to France after he finds his girlfriend cheating on him and falls for Aurelia, his Portuguese housekeeper; David is the new prime minister who holds a torch for Natalie, the girl who brings his tea and biscuits; Recently orphaned Sam confides in his stepfather Daniel about his feelings towards Joanna, a girl from school; Sarah finally finds the courage to make something of her crush on Karl at the office Christmas party; Colin decides that he is too unlucky with British women and that he is going to try his luck in America; John and Judy are body doubles who embark on a rather unusual office romance. These stories all intertwine and more become apparent as Christmas approaches, at which point everything comes to a head.
Love Actually is a truly excellent film. The story is flawless and it has the cast to back this up. I watch Love Actually every December and can't imagine Christmas without it.
A classic film that is easily watchable time and time again. So many love stories some of which entwine with eachother. The film reaches for all the emotions...frustration, despair and happiness. Despite having so many stories, it is really easy to follow. No doubt at the end, there will be a certain love story or two that you remember above the others. There's enough choice including Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon playing prime minister and assistant with massive chemistry, Alan Rickman and Emma Thomson playing long term husband and wife who face the perils of a potential affair and Bill Nighy who plays the aging crooner releasing a Christmas single.
The film is rated a 15...probably due to potty mouth Martine and the pretent porn film scenes! It is a long film but worth the watch. I love the real footage used at the beginning of the film that captures love between people at airports. And the film also contains my favourite love song of all time....Songbird.
Watch it with you partner or friends for an easy watch yet touching film experience.
A romantic comedy with Hugh Grant and Bill Nihgy? Not exactly a movie I would watch, but if you put in Alan Rickman (be still, my heart), Emma Thompson and Colin Firth as the supporting cast that would convince me to watch it. And it did. This is a bunch of "twelve days of Christmas" kind of love stories twined in a simple yet very complicated way to explain it. It will make you wonder, laugh and maybe even get a bit teary. But that's how you're supposed to react to a hollyday romance movie.
Love, Actually (2003.), comedy/romance
Director: Richard Curtis
Hugh Grant.....the Prime Minister
Martine McCutcheon....Prime Minister's assistant Natalie
Andrew Lincoln....Juliet's husband best man Mark
Duration: 2hrs 15 min
The Prime Minister ( Hugh Grant) meets his staff as he enters his residence for the first time. An assistant named Natalie manages to swear three times in two sentences as they are introduced. The Prime Minister is in love. Natalie is also aware of a funny feeling that has no place among her choirs. Martine McCutcheon is a very good a bit too blunt girl fallen head over heels for her boss. Those who don't like Grant could be pleasantly surprised seeing him as a goofy politican more in conflict with his feelings then with the opposition. He has some pretty funny one liners that cheer up his image of a politican.
Little Samuel is deeply in love with an American student who doesn't seem to know he exists. After seeking advice from his mourning step father Daniel, played by Liam Neeson, Samuel decides to learn to play drums to make the girl notice him. Young Brody-Sangster did a great job performing a boy desperately in love, in a way that makes you go "awww".
At the wedding of his best friend the best man Mark (Andrew Lincoln) watches the woman he loves, Juliet, getting married to another man. She belives he hates her because he barely ever spoke to her and discovers his feelings after the wedding. Juliet (Kiera Knightly) realizes Mark is in love with her when she sees he taped only her at the wedding. Keira Knightly played the confused bride as good as Andrew Lincoln acted a very hurt and enamored best man.
The plot begins weeks before Christmas and during that time the love stories of the supporting characters, somehow connected to the Prime Minister, Mark and Samuel, evolve in different directions as well.
For example, the Prime Minister's sister Karen (Emma Thompson) finds out her husband Harry (Alan Rickman) is buying Christmas presents for another woman. They separate after their children's school play on Christmas. Karen's friend Jamie (Colin Firth), a writer, runs off to France after his girlfriend cheats on him with his brother. He falls in love with his Portugese house keeper Aurelia and on Christmas asks her to marry him. Bill Nighy as an old rock star causes turmoil while competing in the Christmas chart countodwn. He winns and on Christmas Eve gets an invitation to Elton John's party only to come back to his manager because he turns out to be "the love of his life".
On Christmas Eve the Prime Minister searches for Natalie driving arround in the ceremonial car. That same evening, after the school play Samuel finds out that the American girl is going back home so he and his step father follow her to the airport. Samuel ends up jumping over checkpoints at the airport and escaping the guards but manages to say goodbye and gets a kiss. Mark comes to Juliet, pretending he's a carol singer to fool his best friend, and tells Juliet she will be his beloved till the day he dies.
The Prime Minister, a little boy and the best man learn that the hardest thing to do is tell people how you feel about them. Because after that, all you have to deal with is love.
Love can be found anywhere in world. Love can be in any relationship with any one. Boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, fiances, mums, dads, brothers, sisters, best friends and old friends. In fact, love is all around.
This ultimate romantic comedy is about 8 different stories all connected with love, this period is christmas.
The stories are: 1. A rock star, who is in love with music and aims to get his single 'Christmas is all around' to no 1.
2. The Prime Minister who is in love with the UK, but then has hots for one of his new servants, Natalie.
3. Daniel, a widower has to raise up his step-son who has a crush on a girl at school.
4. husband, Harry and wife Karen , Harry tries to have an affair with one of his work clients, Mia.
5. Sarah, one of Harry's clients, has hot for a guy named Karl, but also is going through a tough time as Sarah's brother is suffering from depression.
6. Jamie, moved abroad to get away from the christmas busy season, but a servant arrives (she is Portugese) Jamie tries to learn Portugese to win her heart.
7. Peter and Juliet are a newly married couple - but Juliet has hots for the camera man who filmed her wedding!
Billy Mack - Bill Nighy
The Prime minister - Hugh Grant
Daniel - Liam Nesson
Sarah - Laura Linney
Jamie - Colin Firth
Karen - Emma Thompson
Harry - Alan Rickman
Juliet - Kiera Knightley
Natalie - Martine McCutheon
Rufus, the jeweller - Rowan Atkinson
cameo apperences: Claudia Schiffer, Julia Davis, Rowan Atkinson, Ant and Dec, Michael Parkinson
release date: November 2003 (theatre) April 2004 (DVD)
director : Richard Curtis
This is one of those films it's taken me a very long time to get round to watching. I can't really explain why as I like both Bridget Jones and Notting Hill which are both made by the same people. I also rather like a number of the cast members in this - Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman and Bill Nighy. I'm not a huge fan of Hugh Grant, but then he's one of those who although he only ever seems to play himself, he's fairly easy on the eye so you don't really mind too much - well I don't anyway. There's a lot more in terms of well known cast members too.
~*~ Film Synopsis ~*~
We're given a glimpse of the lives of a number of different people in the run up to Christmas. There are probably about 10 different lines that run through this, and each story is quite different, but each focuses on love in one form or another. A new prime minister falling in lust with his new employee, a man who is in love with his best friends new wife, a man whos wife has died and he now has to cope alone with his young son's first love. There's also a man writing a book who's housekeeper speaks a completely different language and both are silently falling for each other and don't know it. All the while, there's Bill Nighy playing a washed up rock star trying to make a come back, and saying all the wrong things and yet somehow getting it spot on without knowing it.
~*~ What I liked ~*~
These storylines aren't all completely separate, and they do meld together somewhat better than it might seem reading the above, although initially you don't necessarily see the connections, and it's only as you go through the film that you realise that they are related.
There are some fabulous funny moments through the film. I particularly liked Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister dancing around through No 10 till he got caught out by one of his staff members.
Colin Firth when his novel blows away into the water and both he, and his housekeeper (neither of whom speak the same language) both try to rescue it. Her part is in subtitles and you see them both sort of talking at cross purposes as the water is cold and he's saying it's not worth saving and she's saying it better be worth saving etc. There's also rather a poignant moment after as they're talking and he says that it's his favourite time of day driving her home and she says it's her saddest part of day leaving him, and yet neither can understand what the other is saying.
Another rather poignant moment is when the new bride is looking at the video her new husband's best friend has made of the wedding, and realises how he's focussed only on her, and that he's actually in love with her.
Bill Nighy is fabulously right as the aging slightly hippy ex rock star. He just kind of is what you expect making all the wrong comments on radio or TV about how he doesn't like the song he just doesn't want a teen star to be at No 1 at Christmas.
One of the final scenes - at the school play - where everything and everyone (almost) seems to come together is brilliantly done, although I am always surprised at how well so called school kids can sing and dance - it would be nice if occasionally a school in a film was like a real one where the kids all sing off key and one starts crying for mum in the middle of the nativity scene you know. (oops time for my dislikes I guess seeing as I seem to have slipped from one to the other here!).
~*~ What I didn't Like ~*~
I did find that there was a little too much cliché in here somehow. Bill Nighy on the TV looking so obviously like an aging rock star, surrounded by young girls who can't play guitar all in red and white. (Except that the cliché is broken by the end of the film).
Hugh Grant is very much his normal self through the film - I don't really think the bloke actually knows how to act, he just happens to have the look that a lot of women like, and the style that fits rather well in this sort of film, so it still works. (Except that he can dance, and when he sings carols on someone's doorstep it is very amusing).
I also found the film a little disjointed in places - I felt like we were jumping backwards and forwards just a tad too much at times. I can see why they did it that way rather than keeping it linear, but I'd still have liked to stay with one focus for a little longer at a time on occasion. Although this gets less and less the further into the film we get and the more we find the different people and groups of people are actually linked.
~*~ Special Features ~*~
An audio commentary with Richard Curtis, Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy and Thomas Sangster - This was interesting but rather long winded for my taste. I prefer it when you several shorter individual interviews. I find those more interesting generally than when it's done as one long feature like this.
Deleted scenes - I quite enjoyed these, mostly because I like to see the stuff they've left out and decide for myself whether they were right to cut it. For the most part I agreed with them on all the scenes they'd removed here.
Music Video of 'Christmas is all around us' - Umm... well... err... yeah, it just really is very very bad lol. But then that's kind of the point I think. I guess they had to make the video to use in the film so including it on the DVD made sense from that point of view, but although I watched it once for completeness sake, I don't think I'll ever bother again.
Music Highlights - This is a bit of talk about each of the following songs: Songbird - Eva Cassidy, Both Sides now - Joni Michell, All I want for Christmas - Olivia Olson, Portuguese Love Theme - Craig Armstrong, and God Only Knows - Beach Boys. It tells why they were used in the film, and then shows the scene from the film with that song playing. To be honest I didn't find this that interesting.
The Storytellers - This is a commentary about the the writing of the film by Richard Curtis and how this follows on from his other films, how it's similar and how it's different. It also has Richard Curtis talking about making it and how he came to write the stories and make the film and what he drew on from real life etc. It also had various cast members talking about the making of the film and what they thought of the various different storylines. Bits of it were interesting, but bits were a little boring, and there were quite a lot of flashback moments into the film too, which was a bit boring when you've just watched the film.
~*~ Overall Thoughts ~*~
The overall feel of the film is that of a feel good movie, and shows us that love really is all around us all the time. It's just not always quite as we expect it to be. Things like the young boy who's 'in love' for the first time - he's just lost his mum, and is grieving for her in his own way, the girl he's in love with has the same name as his mum. It's actually the love between him and his father which is the focus here really, and each helps the other to grow and move forward as they need to. Again, with the man in love with his friend's wife, it's not that he's in love with her that's the issue, it's the fact that he loves his friend enough to never make a move on her and to try and stay a good friend for both of them even when she finds out how he feels. Ok, it does end with a proper 'romantic love' ending too, but that's only one of the stories.
I feel like I've missed so much out of this review too, - the scenes between the two porn stars are brilliantly done - for example where it appears she's giving him a blow job, and then you see she's just moving back and forward towards his groin while they talk. The scene with Alan Rickman trying to buy a gift of jewellery in a store from Rowan Atkinson who seems determined to overwrap things and drive Alan Rickman nuts before his wife arrives, and then later on (Christmas Eve) when his wife (Emma Thompson) finds that he didn't buy anything for her from there at all, and concludes that he must be having an affair. But it is a very full film in some ways, and I think it would be really hard to tell all the bits I liked without taking virtually as long as it took to watch the film.
As I've said, I really did enjoy the film, but I'm glad I didn't spend a lot on it, I think if I had I might have been a bit disappointed in some ways as it really wasn't what I expected. I was expecting something that was much more like Notting Hill or Bridget Jones in terms of having a linear storyline. Having said that, I think I'll probably watch it again a few times before I pass the DVD on, and I think this is probably a film that many blokes will go into/have gone into thinking oh no another chick flick to sit through, and actually find that they quite enjoy it because of the comedy involved.
Love Actually is British romantic comedy written and directed by Richard Curtis about ten couples/groups of people who are affected by 'Love' in the run up to Christmas.
It features an ensemble cast of Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley and Rowan Atkinson among others.
It was released on 21st November 2003, was distributed by Universal Pictures and is 136 minutes long
A few weeks before Christmas and life is far from perfect for many people in London. An ageing rock star, Billy Mack played by Bill Nighy, is lonely and at the end of his career when he is asked by his manager, played by Gregor Fisher, to record a novelty Christmas record. When Billy Mack's bad behaviour unexpectedly lands him in the Top Ten his life begins to change, but who will he thank for his sudden return to the top?
Alongside the rock star are several concurrently running stories, about the British Prime Minister who is attracted to a member of his staff, a Managing Director of a media company who has a flirtatious secretary and a father who has to learn how to cope with his love-sick step-son.
As the weeks roll towards Christmas the stories intensify to the point where everything either comes together or falls apart, but which will it be for each story?
I've watched this film a few times, and though I found it didn't have the realism of 'Girl in a Café' also by Curtis and featuring Bill Nighy, it was romantically funny in a similar way to 'Notting Hill' and 'Four Weddings'. It had enough quirky characters and cameo appearances from people like Rowan Atkinson to keep me interested and a few genuinely funny moments. I'm not a fan of Richard Curtis but I'm sure it would please the people who are. This film has it's heart in the right place and enough little streams of stories going on to keep me interested, though ultimately it failed to win much praise from me. It would be ideal as a family movie, except it features too much nudity and swearing to be acceptable, and it can sometimes be too gratuitous to laugh at with your partner.
It is worth buying if you find it very cheaply, but it's not a classic by any stretch of the imagination.
100% UNMISSABLE MOVIE! From the makers of Notting Hill and Bridget Jones Diary this film firmly secures its place in the wall of fame for romantic comedies with loads of festive cheer thrown in as a bonus. A fantastic all star cast and believable characters you can connect with, topped up with an outstanding soundtrack.
The only way to describe it is that it is a film made up of 10 stories about love during the build up to Christmas. Boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, fathers and sons and rock stars and managers.
I normally hate movies that are made up of many story lines but this actually works really well. It's quite clever really because it covers so many different areas and caters to a diverse audience. This is one you can watch with your partner, children, friends and family pets. This is what you call a feel good movie because by the end of it you'll be left feeling really mushy.
Richard Curtis seems to be able to create a bit of magic whenever he puts his mind to it. Whether it's Four Weddings, Notting Hill or this little gem of a film, or any of his other writing or directing endeavours, there always seems to be something magical.
Love Actually focuses on a number of different people as their lives intertwine in the buildup to Christmas. He manages to get a plethora of British stars to fill in the cast list, and with the situational comedy and a great soundtrack, it turns out to be a film that will make you laugh, smile and cry all the way through.
Topping the billing, as you often get with Curtis' films, is Hugh Grant, who plays the Prime Minister. A few comedy moments come from him, but his is mostly just a typical performance. Him singing Christmas carols quite randomly on someone's doorstep is surpassed only by the deep and practised baritone of his footman, to his and our surprise! The PM has fallen for his assistant, Natalie, played by Martine McCutcheon. Meanwhile, his sister (Emma Thompson) suspects her husband (Alan Rickman) of playing away.
However, she puts on a brave face as her kids get ready for their Nativity, while another kid (Freddie Highmore) thinks he's in love with the American girl at school. His dad (Liam Neeson) is going through his own grief trying to cope with the loss of his wife. Also interwoven into the plot are stars such as Colin Firth, who winds up on a little round the world tour after finding his brother in bed with his wife; Keira Knightley, who marries Andrew Lincoln's best friend; Laura Linney who is struggling to find love whilst supporting her brother; the list is endless!
Whilst looking at this list (which is even longer than I have described), you would be forgiven for wondering how on earth they manage to pack everything into the short space of time they have without completely underdoing everything and leaving everything characterless. However, with small scenes each telling parts of each subplot, the whole story comes together rather well. The dialogue is often minimal, allowing the visual skills of the actors to do their jobs. In a way, we are left to fill the gaps between the scenes we experience, and Curtis kind of tells us that we couldn't possibly see every scene all at once.
Indeed, each scene is set out almost like a sketch show, and the characters developed in the same way. Bill Nighy and Gregor Fisher (better known as Rab C Nesbitt) manage to create their own professional relationship as the former tries desperately to create the latest magical Christmas song, and this is sort of the backbone of the film, musically.
We are given a series of different types of relationship, and we watch as over a few days they all develop rapidly and, on the whole, with favourable conclusions that are likely to make you smile. The odd hilarity eases some of the romantic tension, and Firth's attempt at a dodgy Portugese speech couldn't stop me from laughing.
Overall, it's a wonderful feel good film. I feel that Curtis almost overdid it, but the general result is one of a film that I happily watch each time it is on. I like Curtis, and think that his writing and directing lend themselves to films that you can watch multiple times and still maintain a completel air of enjoyment. I can highly recommend watching this film, whether it's Christmas or not, as although it has a festive setting, it is really aimed at promoting love and relationships, and does so marvellously. Love really is all around in this film.
Currently available from amazon.co.uk for £3.98, Love Actually is a brilliant film that maintains Richard Curtis' status as the best of the crop when it comes to British film makers. Full of stars, it is a film that is well worth the watch, and I highly recommend it.
Love Actually has to be one of my all time favourite films. I have watched it several times and never get tired of it; it is one of those "feel good" films like Mama Mia and Bridget Jones' Diary, completely undemanding to watch and leaving me with a warm glow at the end. It was written and directed by Richard Curtis and of course he was also responsible for Bridget Jones' diary and Notting Hill so if you liked those films there is a good chance that you would like Love Actually.
**What is it about?**
The film is divided into 10 stories about different types of love including the first love of a young school boy, unrequited love of a young man for his best friend's fiancé, the love of a sister for her mentally ill brother, infatuation (mistaken as love) of a boss for his employee, love across the language divide, friendship between two men which is a kind of love, the blossoming of a brand new love, the possibility of love to come and the pursuit of love.
The film is set in the weeks running up to Christmas and follows the various characters as they cope with situations in their lives while getting ready for Christmas. The title of the film may lead people to believe that it is all romance and slushiness but there are lots of funny and light hearted moments in the film such as Bill Nighy trying time and again to get the words of his new Christmas song right, Colin Firth trying to communicate with his Portuguese housekeeper and Colin (Kris Marshall) and his friend's various attempts to get girlfriends. However there are also some sad ones like the funeral of Lian Neeson's wife near the beginning of the film and the bravery of him and her young son, Sam (Thomas Sangster). However, the sad bits don't last long and the different story lines keep the film moving along at a good pace. There are many poignant moments too which of course there in real love and life.
It might seem on reading this that 10 different story lines could be difficult to follow in one film but it is cleverly put together as the characters are linked by family ties, friendships and work colleagues which provides a thread of continuity in the film and binds it all together.
**The Main Cast**
Cameo role by Claudia Schiffer
There are lots more characters but I think these are the most famous ones.
**Parts of the film I liked best**
I love Hugh Grant's portrayal of the British Prime Minster, he looks the part and his line to the American Prime Minster that Great Britain could manage without them is probably something many British Prime Ministers would like to have said at some point in their careers!
My favourite part of the film is when Mark (Andrew Lincoln) shows Juliet (Keira Knightley) his video of her wedding and her slow realisation of how he feels about her. This is such a poignant moment as he obviously loves her but knows that he can't have her as she has just married his best friend.
There are lots of small amusing moments such as the children's nativity play where one child has to dress up as a lobster??!
The music - throughout the film there are lots of songs that everyone would know but there is also the "Love Actually" theme that runs through it and suits the film perfectly.
The ending shots at Heathrow Airport (these are all live shots of real people arriving and greeting their families). This ending really sums the film up as it shows the uncomplicated love that people feel when they are meeting friends and family that they haven't seen for a while and shows that "love really is all around us".
However, I won't give any more away just in case there are a few people out there who haven't seen it yet and want to!
All in all I think it is an excellent film if you want something easy to watch, a bit of romance, a bit of comedy and left feeling like you have had a big, warm hug!!
"General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends."
FILM ONLY REVIEW
After the trauma of watching The Painted Veil (see previous review) plus a multitude of other suicide/jail/disease themed movies (see virtually all my other reviews!), I decided to take a break by watching a film repeated seemingly endlessly over the Christmas period, "Love Actually" a romantic comedy directed by Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Four Weddings and A Funeral) and starring amongst many others Hugh Grant (virtually every rom-com ever made).
The fact that in my opinion the only thing worse than a rom-com is a rom-com starring Hugh Grant made this decision questionable but, nonetheless, I pressed on in the quest for my next shiny dooyoo 50p.
Hugh Grant of course plays basically the same character as he's played in every film he's ever made, bumbling and stuttering his way through the film as the stereotypical Englishman that only seems to exist in Grant's head. He fails to convince as the Prime Minister, lacking believability, confidence and authority in the role. His screen time is mercifully short and he is therefore lacking in the annoyance-factor he provides in spades to most of his other films.
As for the film itself, Love Actually is a collection of loosely interrelated stories based on the central theme; love. That is love in all it's various guises - whether between girlfriend and boyfriend, father and son or best friends. To give a couple of examples, some of the scenarios include:
- An early scene in the movie depicts the wedding ceremony of Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor and Juliet (Keira Knightley). Despite Best Man Mark (Andrew Lincoln) pulling out all the stops to make this a memorable and romantic occasion, there is definitely a frosty relationship between the bride and the best friend. What is the reason for this apparent dislike - is it a case of simple jealousy or is there more to it than that?
- Colin Frissell (Kris Marshall), after yet again embarrassing himself at the wedding by complaining about the food (to the caterer), has discovered the reason for his lack of success with the opposite sex: "I am Colin. God of Sex. I'm just on the wrong continent ". The solution is simple - travel to America where the ladies will be fighting over his cute British accent. What could be easier than that?
Meanwhile, new British Prime Minister Hugh Grant develops an "inconvenient" attachment to his new member of staff Natalie (Martine McCutcheon). When the American President comes to visit, Natalie's head is turned. The PM responds by making a political and public u-turn in a press-conference. In an obviously double-edged speech he tells the President (boo hiss) that Britain "may be a small country but we're a great one, too.... And a friend who bullies us is no longer a friend...from now onward, I will be prepared to be much stronger. And the President should be prepared for that." (A POLITICAL point, in a Richard Cutis film...who would've thought it. Mr Curtis, Sir, we salute you)
You may have gathered that Love Actually is pretty much a who's-who of British acting. The ensemble cast includes, in addition to those listed above, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightly and Alan Rickman. The movie can also namedrop "Ant or Dec", Michael Parkinson, Jo Whiley and Rowan Atkinson who all have cameo appearances.
In general, this all star cast lift the movie. None of them really have enough screen-time to give you a really powerful performance or to show much depth in their characters, but despite (or maybe because of) this lack of time, they're all likeable.
Of special note is cynical and bitter rock star Billy Mack (Bill Nighy), who is in a battle with boy-band Blue for the coveted xmas number 1 spot with his cover of his self proclaimed "festering turd" of a record. His Manager cringes as he goes between interviews seemingly in an attempt to finish his career. "Here is an important message from your Uncle Bill. Don't buy drugs..... Become a pop star, and they give you them for free!" His performance is wickedly funny and out of the galaxy of stars on display, his is my favourite character.
Martine McCutcheon is also worth a mention as she makes a seamless transition from crap soap star to pretty decent comedy actress.
The various stories themselves, whilst hardly original, are well developed and eloquently told in the short time available to each one. Each story could, and probably has at some stage, been made into a film in it's own right.
On the face of it, the film could come across as sickly-sweet, but there isn't always a happy ending, at least not in a conventional sense. There are some sad, emotional scenes that provide the film with a balance, but these are shown subtly and with an air of calm dignity. There is a sense that the film is trying to really give the viewer an all-round perspective of love and to show the negative as well as the positive - unrequited love, infidelity, the death of a loved one.
I have to point out after reading some reviews both on this site and other sites; some people really hate this movie. I can understand people who find it too sugary, too lightweight or it doesn't appeal to their sense of humour. But some people are genuinely offended by it.
The 9/11 reference seems to be the main cause of the controversy. Whilst I can understand that a light-weight romantic comedy is not exactly the right forum to discuss the tragedy, it is only a fleeting reference. Basically the point is made that when the planes were going down, none of the phone-calls made were messages of hate, they were all of love. It's probably true, it raises the point that love is the most powerful emotion, but nonetheless, people were genuinely upset by this. I would say that's being a bit over-sensitive, but that's just my opinion.
Complaints were made about the sexist nature of the film. In a way it's true; a lot of the relationships do seem to feature successful older men with attractive younger females. And the scenes in America are undeniably sexist, although, without giving too much away, these scenes are meant to be tongue-in-cheek fantasy and are probably more revealing about men's short-comings than women's (although Kris Marshall apparently had so much fun filming one particular scene he refused to be paid for that day's work!)
There is a definite anti-American bias which seems to be a desire by the writer to cash in on the anti-war message. The American President (Billy Bob Thornton) is portrayed as the arch-villain. Similarly, all the Portuguese are portrayed as peasants. And we all get to laugh at the fat girl.
All these complaints are probably valid, but in reality I think that people are too easily offended by these things. Maybe I'm missing the point.
More irritating to me were the unbelievable plot lines and particularly the time frames in which they occur. The film is supposed to be set in the build up to Christmas and, without giving too much away, it's amazing what these characters can accomplish in just a few weeks (both emotionally and physically)! In that way, maybe the interlinking plots don't really work and are a bit too much for the director and writer to handle. My opinion is just that this is not really a film to think about. It needs to be taken with a huge pinch of salt (or should that be sugar).
Love Actually is a 15 due to the levels of nudity and swearing in the film. I have to say that both seemed a bit unnecessary and forced to me. It's a shame if these were used as selling points for the film because really it could have been a real Christmassy family film. Apparently there is a censored version available on DVD.
Rotten Tomatoes 63%
Release date: 21 Nov 2003
The word "actually" is spoken 22 times during the film
In each of Richard Curtis' films there is an annoying character named Bernard; here he is the "horrid son". Curtis' girlfriend at college dumped him for a man named Bernard.
Rowan Atkinson's character was initially supposed to be an angel and disappear at the end. In the scene at the jewellery counter, he provides the customer with the opportunity to re-think his actions and his actions also help to provide a positive outcome at the airport.
The airport footage at the beginning and end of the film is real
Olivia Olson's singing at the Christmas concert is her own voice, however the director had it edited to sound more like a child's voice as it was too good.
The idea for the surprise at Peter and Juliet's wedding came from Jim Henson's funeral (which Richard Curtis attended) where all the muppets sung a song
Anthony Hopkins was considered to play the Prime Minister
Tony Blair's response to Hugh Grant's speech as PM was as follows: "I know there's a bit of us that would like me to do a Hugh Grant in 'Love Actually' and tell America where to get off. But the difference between a good film and real life is that in real life there's the next day, the next year, the next lifetime to contemplate the ruinous consequences of easy applause."
In the end, "Love Actually" is a feel-good Christmas romantic comedy and is shamelessly and obviously upbeat; love is a good thing and worth fighting for. The film does exactly what it says on the tin. You couldn't describe any individual component as exceptional - the acting, directing, script and music all vary between "satisfactory" and "good". The characters, although sometimes endearing, occasionally come across as one dimensional caricatures, or maybe characters in a sketch show.
But like the individual stories that link this tapestry together, the sum is greater than the parts. It's a really enjoyable film; funny, entertaining and occasionally moving. It hammers home the message that love can pop up in unexpected places (regardless of age, race or language) and maybe is more powerful than people realise. It comes as recommended viewing for anyone who doesn't want to think too much about a film, who just wants to sit back and enjoy a story (or in this case, ten).
The strong cast are what makes the film; many of the performances are very good indeed and this holds together the strands of the plot and gives each scenario a certain sincerity and depth. I know Hugh Grant has many fans but for me this film failed to change my opinion of him as an actor; his range is about as wide as Keira Knightley's waist.
Love Actually is a film I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed, but I can't deny it. I would have to recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it, particularly as a "date film". It is uplifting, inspiring and fun. It is undoubtedly a light-weight "chick-flick", but I have to confess that I was entertained. It is very much a love or hate sort of movie. And I loved it. Actually.
With no fewer than eight couples vying for our attention, Love Actually is like the London Marathon of romantic comedies, and everybody wins. Having mastered the genre as the writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones's Diary, it appears that first-time director Richard Curtis is just like his screenplays: he just wants to be loved, and he'll go to absurdly appealing lengths to win our affection. With Love Actually, Curtis orchestrates a minor miracle of romantic choreography, guiding a brilliant cast of stars and newcomers as they careen toward love and holiday cheer in London, among them the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) who's smitten with his caterer (Martine McCutcheon); a widower (Liam Neeson) whose young son nurses the ultimate schoolboy crush; a writer (Colin Firth) who falls for his Portuguese housekeeper; a devoted wife and mother (Emma Thompson) coping with her potentially unfaithful husband (Alan Rickman); and a lovelorn American (Laura Linney) who's desperately attracted to a colleague. There's more--too much more--as Curtis wraps his Christmas gift with enough happy endings to sweeten a dozen other movies. That he pulls it off so entertainingly is undeniably impressive; that he does it so shamelessly suggests that his writing fares better with other, less ingratiating directors. --Jeff Shannon