Love Actually

"Very Good"

Love Actually Review


I can only presume that the British calendar is so uniquely screwy that it allows for a Christmas movie to open a week after Halloween. Or maybe Love Actually is just in a universe of its own... one in which the prime minister is inaugurated in November and where an adverb can be used to modify a noun.

But a little oddness is forgivable: Directing a movie is a strange place for Richard Curtis, who's written umpteen Brit-friendly movies and TV shows over the years but hasn't directed one, until now.

Little surprise then that Love Actually plays like a Richard Curtis Greatest Hits compilation. The film comprises nine major and barely-connected stories (as near as I can count) revolving around love and the weeks before Christmas. There's a morose singleton (Laura Linney) looking for love from a co-worker [Bridget Jones's Diary]. In the most enchanting vignette, there's the new Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) falling in love with a foul-mouthed servant (Martine McCutcheon) [Notting Hill in reverse]. There's even one wedding and one funeral [Four Weddings And a Funeral]. And there's Rowan Atkinson [Bean, Blackadder, et al.].

And there's more -- much, much more. From a company boss (Alan Rickman) being tempted away from his wife (Emma Thompson) to another guy (Colin Firth) who finds his soulmate in a housekeeper (that's two men falling for maids in one movie!) to a pair of movie set stand-ins who find love under the lights as they coldly play out a sex scene for the cameras. Digesting the rest of the movie would be close to impossible and counter-productive, since it would rob Love Actually of its charm.

Too bad then that Love Actually is so derivative that it ultimately turns into a severe case of déjà vu. You sit there (for over two hours) wondering what movie was she in? and where have I seen this story before? Eventually the answer to both of those questions ends up being some other movie with Hugh Grant in it.

Not that I don't like Hugh. He's a great comic actor and probably the best part of Love Actually -- though Rickman, McCutcheon, and the effervescent Bill Nighy as a faded rock star trying to make a comeback with a cheesy Christmas song all give him a run for his money. The problem is that Curtis has overstuffed this movie with so many storylines that no single star gets a moment to shine. Just when you're getting into Grant's entanglement, you are whisked away to Liam Neeson crying over his dead wife. It's jarring and it's just too much. Love Actually is never hard to follow -- because Curtis doesn't even bother to make these stories connect beyond a few irrelevant coincidences -- but it is hard to really care about three dozen main characters, each with eight minutes of screen time. There's a fair amount of dead weight here, and Curtis could have easily crafted a stronger package by excising the weaker plotlines. (And by the way, you should dash any hope of taking the kids to this holiday film: It's chock-full of nudity and sexual situations.)

Curtis's gags are generally spot-on, particularly after the film finds its footing. A touching finale makes up for some of the earlier dragging, and cameos galore -- at least half a dozen -- will entertain the movie snobs in the audience. Just don't go and spoil it by looking up the credits on the Internet.

Raise your hand if you like pie.



Love Actually

Facts and Figures

Run time: 135 mins

In Theaters: Friday 14th November 2003

Box Office USA: $59.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $244.9M

Budget: $40M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: DNA Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
Fresh: 120 Rotten: 71

IMDB: 7.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Billy Mack, as Joe, as Jamie Bennett, as Jamie's Girlfriend, as Daniel, as Karen, as Colin Frissell, as Mia, as John, as Just Judy, as Peter, as Mark, as Juliet, as The Prime Minister, Nina Sosanya as Annie, as The US President, as Harry, as Natalie, as Sarah, as Sam, as Karl, as Rufus, jewellery salesman, as Carol, as Stacey, as Jeannie, as Carol-Anne, as Harriet - the Sexy One, as Carla - the Real Friendly One, as Jamie's mum

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Dunkirk Movie Review

Dunkirk Movie Review

Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one...

Killing Ground Movie Review

Killing Ground Movie Review

From Australia, this dark and edgy thriller is skilfully made by writer-director Damien Power to...

City of Ghosts Movie Review

City of Ghosts Movie Review

This award-winning documentary plays like a thriller as it traces the work of a group...

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Advertisement
Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.