Gosh... where to start, other than to say that I love this movie!
Yeah, it's complicated by a whole raft of story lines, subplots and an incredibly large cast. But it works, with the type of charm that most movies can only hint at. True to it's premise, Love Actually highlights love in so many varied ways that it's difficult to fully appreciate it with only a single viewing. This is a DVD that deserves to be purchased, kept and watched year after year.
If there is such a thing as an R-rated Christmas classic, this is it. Yes, there is some nudity, language and a lot of adult themes sprinkled around, so Love Actually isn't the type of movie that you want to break out after the family finishes opening gifts (unless your elderly aunt has fallen asleep in the barcalounger and the younger set is too busy with their new GameBoys to be aware of anything else).
Besides having the common thread of "love", all of the stories feature characters with direct, tenuous or happenstance connections that manage to hold everything together. There is the aged rock star (Bill Nighy) promoting his trashy treacle of a Christmas song, along with his long-suffering manager.
Meanwhile, after discovering his girlfriend's infidelity, mystery writer Jamie (Colin Firth) retreats to France where he falls under the spell of his housekeeper Aurelia (the soulful Lúcia Moniz). Their budding connection is highlighted by the subtitled dialog since he speaks only English and she speaks Portuguese.
Liam Neeson is newly widowed, coping with his grief while helping his stepson Sam (a kid named Thomas Sangster who will make the pulse of every 12 year old girl race, and every mother's heart melt).
Then there is Emma Thompson, the sister of the newly elected Prime Minister, balancing children in the Christmas Pageant case - her daughter is the "first lobster" - with her attentions to her husband, Alan Rickman who is the target of a predatory seductress. And her brother the PM (Hugh Grant) has eyes for the new domestic employee at Number 10 Downing Street (Martine McCutcheon). Of course, Billy Bob Thornton as the US President has more lascivious thoughts regarding her, so that might complicate things a little.
But that's not all! Laura Linney pines over her coworker (they both work for Rickman) Keira Knightley plays a lovely newlywed who isn't aware that her husbands best friend is head over heels in love with her himself. Oh, and lest I forget, there is the actor and actress that meet while filming a porn movie (told you there was nudity). And a young man frustrated by his inability to hit it off with the local women, pursues his dream of meeting uninhibited American women by flying off to Milwaukee!
Rowan Atkinson also provides two brief but critically important scenes as a jewelry salesman with a decidedly unhurried manner. And for the shallow-minded males of the family, there are cameo appearances by Claudia Schiffer, Elisha Cuthbert, Denise Richards and Shannon Elizabeth.
Is that enough for you? It darn well should be! There are a few construction flaws in the whole thing, primarily with the timeline of events being artificially compacted into the five weeks before Christmas, but the overall charm and the collection of winning performances cancel any complaints you might have in that regard.
One final note. If you don't buy the DVD, at least buy the soundtrack! The music is wonderful!
This movie more than succeeds in doing what so many movies try to do: weave together the stories of a number of unlikely characters who run into each other in various ways throughout the film. The stories here are all over the maps - from young to old, to new love to affairs, to family relationships and the death of lovers.. The characters, each well developed and played by a slew of well known established actors, as well as new faces, were distinct and carefully crafted - something that other … more
This winning film starts out with the premise that, contrary to popular belief, the world is full of love, not hatred. By watching the lives of 8 different pairs of people in London, England, some of the many different types of love are explored. There's platonic, seen in the relationship of an aging rock star and his manager, and puppy love, as a young boy develops a crush on a classmate. There's unrequited, when Mark's best friend marries the woman he wants for himself, … more
Pros: Cute, simple, fun, many notable appearances. Cons: Won't appeal for everyone; advertised incorrectly The Bottom Line: Got love? Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. When Love Actually first came onto the scene, it was advertised like a romantic comedy; full of funny goodness all the way through. Mm, sort of. The movie follows the lives … more
For lovers, for losers, for those with unrequited love--there is a relationship here for everyone (and a reminder of all those nasty office wenches who try to steal other people's husbands!). A delightful film, start to finish. (And how could it not be, what with Liam Neeson?)
Pros: Great cast, good stories, honest laughs Cons: The Pop-crap song that you can't seem to get out of your head The Bottom Line: Bored nudity, length, and complex cast probably would keep a lot of viewers from enjoying this one. Personally, I think it's a keeper. 'Love Actually' takes a stellar cast and then opens little windows into the lives of ordinary people showing us the various pursuits, pitfalls, and ideals of Love. … more
"Love Actually" is not a complex film, nor is it a terribly deep film. Nevertheless, it accomplishes its goal of expressing, in simple (but not simplistic) terms some of the different kinds of love people experience in life. It begins with the message "Love, actually, is all around" and it maintains that course throughout the film.Among the many different types of love the film covers are first love, new love, seasoned love, love on the rocks, frustrated love, unexpressed love, unrequited love, … more
Pros: Superbly acted, lighthearted theme. Cons: Somewhat disjoined because of the plot; too many sub-plots going on. The Bottom Line: Love Actually is good clean (well almost) adult fun, a date movie for adults. So round up a date, cuddle on the couch and drink in. I am an incurable romantic, a voyeur of sorts in the window of love with a weakness for the quixotic interplay between humans; it is unique among Gods creations, … more
Pros: cute, hilarious, optimistic, Bill Nighy Cons: Christmas-oriented (Bah Humbug!), a little sappy The Bottom Line: All I want for Christmas is Hugh. Most romantic comedies are boring because they are so simple. The typical rom-com expects viewers to care about the fate of one special couple that gets treated as if they are the only two people in the universe worth worrying about. The most horrifying example of this that Ive … more
With no fewer than eight couples vying for our attention,Love Actuallyis like the Boston Marathon of romantic comedies, and everybody wins. Having mastered the genre as the writer ofFour Weddings and a Funeral,Notting Hill, andBridget 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. WithLove 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; 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