Review of 'Love Actually'

love_actually.jpg A wonderful series of interwoven stories taking place in London in the weeks leading up to Christmas featuring an all-star cast of Hollywood A-listers:

  • Aging rock-star Billy Mack's (Bill Nighy's) has released a Christmas version of one of his famous songs that he knows is rubbish and shares this with the world much to the consternation of his manager Joe (Gregor Fisher's).
  • Daniel (Liam Neeson's) is left despondent following the death of his wife when his young son Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) surprises Daniel by telling him he is in love with a girl who is shortly to be leaving for the United States.
  • Young couple Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) have just married believing that Peter's best friend and best man Mark (Andrew Lincoln) hate them both, but the truth is far more devastating.
  • Writer Jamie (Colin Firth), a writer, has retreated to rural France following betrayal by his girlfriend. There he takes on Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), a Portuguese woman who speaks no English (and he speaks no Portuguese, as a housekeeper. A charming relationship develops…
  • Harry (Alan Rickman) and Karen (Dame Emma Thompson) have been married many years and have several children. When Harry starts flirting with co-worker Mia (Heike Makatsch), how far will he take it?
  • Newly elected and awkward Prime Minister David (Hugh Grant) moves into 10 Downing Street where he is attracted to a new household servant, Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), who seems attracted to him as well. When David catches her in a compromising position with the US president things come to a head…
  • Sarah (Laura Linney) has been in love with her co-worker Karl (Rodrigo Santoro) for years and finally decides to do something about it when her private live rudely intrudes…
  • Young man Colin Frissell (Kris Marshall) is determined to find a woman for easy sex. Believing they are easy to find in any bar in the United States he travels to a very snowy Wisconsin and, astonishingly, discovers it is true…
  • In a highly amusing thread, John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page) are movie body doubles, simulating sex scenes while having fairly boring conversations hiding a shy attraction between the two. Despite romping around in the nude will the two finally express what they really feel for each other?

Yes, there is a lot going on, but it is all very well done with surprisingly tremendous performances by the cast. A gentle British romantic comedy that features so many different stories and characters if you don't like any of them, stick around for a few minutes as a different set will soon be on the screen. I have to say with the sheer amount of talent on the screen boundless some of it is to be underutilized and this is most definitely true of Rowan Atkinson as the shop assistant whose time on the screen is woefully short and whose character's humour is mild in the extreme. Yes, he does appear later at the airport but there his comic talents are completely neglected.

The shock of the nudity in the John/Judy thread will slightly jar viewers expecting something a bit less R-rated but this just adds to the outrageous humour of that story: Two characters simulating the most personal act who find it difficult to express their personal feelings for each other. Other than this there is no swearing and violence worth mentioning in “Love Actually” as the various stories weave amongst themselves culminating in a school concert finale that brings them all together with a suitably festive, though slightly melancholy, ending.

A mild mannered British Christmas classic that manages to be both fun and serious at the same time telling some awkward truths about love. Much like many of the best British romantic comedies.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2022-01-15

Directed by: Richard Curtis

Studio: Universal Pictures

Year: 2003

Length: 135 minutes

Genre: Melodrama