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Love Actually (Widescreen Edition) (2003)

Art House & International, Comedy, and Drama movie

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The Nature of Love

  • Jun 8, 2004
Rating:
+5
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. The plot, therefore, is a bit complex to relate in a review. Yet, I never once found myself wondering who someone was or where I had missed out on some vital bit of information.

There are several main storylines. There is the new and single Prime Minister of England, played by Hugh Grant, who falls rapidly for a charmingly artless member of his household staff. His sister (Emma Thompson) and her husband (Alan Rickman)who have fallen into all the common routines of a long marriage. A writer (Colin Firth) who hides out somewhere in France when his marriage takes a turn he wasn't expecting. A step-father (Liam Neeson) who puts aside his own grief to help a now motherless son with his own 'agonies' of love. And a newly wedded couple who can't seem to help the groom's best friend accept this new stage in their life.

Interspersed throughout these main stories are smaller stories involving seemingly unrelated people. Actually, these side stories involve the types of people in nearly everyone's life. The co-worker or wedding guest that you know only casually. On the surface, you might think "Oh, that's just Bob." and accept that one dimensional picture you have of that person, never realizing all the twists and turns they face in their own lives as they too attempt to pursue love and happiness. Then there is the cameo by Rowan Atkinson that really just emphasizes how absurd life can be...especially when the Universe is having a laugh at our expense!

This film is definitely an oddity when it comes to the subject of Romance. Then again, it is all too easy to forget that Love is not necessarily Romance. One of the main characters says right at the beginning that while we tend to rant about all the hate and greed in the world, Love is actually all around us. It is seldom newsworthy, but it's there all the same. And, he's right.

Disasters involving things like Hate or Greed happen every day, and we can't seem to stop ourselves from noticing them. They grab your attention, you know? Love, in all its many forms, tends to be a lot quieter and less demanding of our attention. Perhaps that is why we overlook it so often? Love isn't always the brilliant, dramatic display so many people seem to long for in their lives. Most often, it is simply the steadfast outpouring of support whenever we need it. A sincere statement of encouragement, a well-timed joke calculated to draw out a laugh, the sacrifice of a personal desire for the need of someone else. Whether it comes from an old friend, a family member, or someone who wants to be the new person in your life doesn't really matter. It's Love no matter the source, no matter what else you were expecting.

That is the unifying theme of this film, and everyone involved did a wonderful job of displaying the many splendors of Love. Love isn't always happy, and neither are all the tales told in this film. I would have to say that, like Life, this film was more Drama than Romance or even Romantic Comedy. For all the happy endings that do occur though, this is not quite the squishy, typical Hollywood romantic comedy we have all come to expect. Some loves go unrequited, some characters suffer various indignities, embarrassments, or affronts in the name of Love...just as we do in Life. The laughs here are generally at the expense of real life moments. Like the young daughter who proudly announces she'll be playing the 1st Lobster in the this year's Nativity play.

Mom: "There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?!"

Daughter: "Duh!"

Accompanied, of course, with the dreaded 'look'. Parents know that look. The 'how could you be so dense and do I really have to admit you're my parent' look. Speaking from experience, it's a lot funnier when it's someone else getting that look! All of the situations presented here aren't as likely or true to life perhaps, but they are well worth the telling none the less.

I'm sure the myriad of characters and loosely interwoven tales would be a major default for a lot of viewers. Personally, I never found it to be a fault. They did a wonderful job of keeping things flowing, and it was always the stories being told rather than the actual 'who's who' that was important.

I had rented this on DVD, so I also had the added pleasure of viewing all the scenes that were cut for time. A lot of the scenes they cut were really outstanding, which made me a bit sad that they had to be cut. While I understand trimming down story and even character development for the sake of time, I think this is yet another case that supports my thoughts on the future of DVD's.

There are countless stories that could be stunningly adapted for film that would just be too long for the big screen. Movie-goers can only go so long without a bathroom and/or cigarette break, after all. Thanks to Peter Jackson though, we have all seen that a complex tale can be made for the big screen and then rounded out, without regard for time, and sold profitably on DVD.

While 'Love Actually' certainly didn't loose anything for these bits being cut out, I have to wonder how leaving them in might have altered my final view of this work. When all is said and done though, I believe 'Love Actually' has given us all an excellent opportunity to ponder the nature of Love in all its forms. Some language and brief scenes of extremely casual (verging on bored lol) nudity might be offensive to some or make it unsuitable for a younger audience. I could even see some viewers being disappointed in how truly simplistic the story is when viewed as a whole. In the end though, I maintain that these collected tales are very like life. There is no real ending, it's a work in progress...and Love is always there if you only take the time to notice.


Recommended:
Yes

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More Love Actually (2003) reviews
review by . July 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
review by . August 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
All kinds of love
   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, …
Quick Tip by . August 30, 2009
Love Actually is the ultimate romantic comedy, fun quirky, stars Hugh Grant and a slew of British actors. Makes me laugh every time..
review by . October 10, 2007
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 …
review by . August 20, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
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?)
review by . December 19, 2006
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 …
review by . May 23, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
"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, …
review by . May 03, 2004
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 God’s creations, …
review by . November 30, 2003
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 I’ve …
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Quinn Blackburn ()
Ranked #128
Hello, my name is Quinn... yes, that really is my first name. :o) I also answer to Mom, and occasionally Entwife. I enjoy Beauty wherever I find it... Nature, Music, Art in all its forms... I believe … more
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Wiki

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
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Details

DVD Release Date: April 27, 2004
Runtime: 135 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios

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