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

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

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.