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Love Actually (Widescreen Edition) (2003)

Art House & International, Comedy, and Drama movie

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Where is the Love? Everywhere!

  • Nov 30, 2003
  • by
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 seen recently was Beyond Borders, a film in which Angelina Jolie has a love affair with a British doctor while bombs explode and refugees are being killed all around them. I really couldn’t have any sympathy for these star-crossed lovers when they were supposed to be providing relief for victims of war.

Love Actually is refreshing because it actually has some perspective. The point of view of the film, as Billy Mack’s (Billy Nighy) splendidly horrible single tells us, is that "love is all around us."

Instead of focusing on just one bland couple’s story, Love Actually shows several, all of which intertwine loosely. Apart from a few very clever lines, Love Actually doesn’t feature anything you’ve never seen before. In fact, it’s chock full of movie clichés. However, the sum of all the individual stories is much greater than its parts. Love Actually’s optimistic attitude makes it different from anything you’ll see on the big screen this year.

Most films have "good guys" and "bad guys," but everyone is the good guy in Love Actually, which is the way it is in the real world. Real life, in which one can often see both sides of a conflict, is never as simple as it seems in the movies.

Love Actually shows us various types of people experiencing different types of love: romantic love, familial love, lust, unrequited love, puppy love, and platonic love. Starting and ending at Heathrow Airport, the film emphasizes that love is a universal human emotion, as we see a diverse group of people embracing their loved ones. While most of the news we see on TV everyday is horrifying, the majority of people in the world are very kind. None of the characters in this film are particularly extraordinary, but they are all very sweet. The only person in Love Actually who appears to be somewhat evil is the president of the United States (Billy Bob Thornton). Yup, this is definitely my kind of movie.

As the world’s biggest scrooge, I was a bit afraid that the emphasis on Christmas in Love Actually would disturb me. Indeed, the film implies that everyone is united by Christmas, which bothered me a bit, but the brilliant Billy Mack character and his unabashed attempt to make a few quid from a dreadful Christmas song saved the film for me. He delivers one hilarious line after another with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.

My other favorite character was Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), an adorable, clumsy and somewhat chubby tea server for the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant). Like Baby in Dirty Dancing, Natalie gives hope to women everywhere that you can have a romance with the likes of Hugh Grant even if you don’t look like a supermodel.

The Prime Minister, on the other hand, is completely unrealistic. Dancing around his residence to a classic Pointer Sisters tune I can believe, but making a speech that Britain will no longer be "bullied" by the United States is ridiculous. Part of the point of Love Actually is that people do crazy things for love all the time, but I guess I was just hoping that the Prime Minister would be above all of that.

Some of the stories are a bit lame – porn co-stars falling in love, a lonely writer and his maid communicating without words, a marriage falling apart—but the plot involving Collin’s (Kris Marshall) trip to America was rich enough to fill an entire movie. He has trouble pulling in England, but decides to head across the pond because, "In America, I’d have a cute, English accent." Hilarity ensues.

Love Actually is not merely a comedy—several aspects of the film are painful to watch, such as the workaholic Sarah (Laura Linney), whose social life is stifled by her mentally ill brother, Karen (Emma Thompson) trying to be strong for her children, and Mark’s (Andrew Lincoln) visible heartbreak every time he looks at his best friend with the gorgeous Juliet (Kiera Knightly). However, because the stories and characters are somehow connected, the sadness seems less intense, and we know that the characters will find happiness again soon.

I’m not sure how Richard Curtis made so much cuteness fit into one film. Love Actually is far from perfect, but the film strengthened my faith in humanity.


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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 . June 08, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
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. …
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, …
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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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DVD Release Date: April 27, 2004
Runtime: 135 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios

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