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Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Gregor Fisher, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightly, Martine McCutcheon, Thomas Sangster
If you are generally disgusted by warm and fuzzy affairs, stop reading this
review! Love Actually is so sickly sweet that it’s possible to
overdose on the syrupy quality of it all. Diabetics take cover. Dewy-eyed romantics
stop clutching your Harlequin novels, Bridget
Jones’s Diary and Notting
Hill scribe Richard Curtis is taking prisoners. Love Actually
packs a lethal punch of numerous London love stories all rolled into one super
Hugh Grant leads an all-star ensemble cast of lovers falling in love and out
of love a month before a chaotic Christmas. Grant’s prime minister has
the hots for his assistant (Martine McCutcheon). Liam Neeson’s affecting
widower has his hands full with a precocious stepson (Thomas Sangster) in the
throes of first love. Colin Firth, always the cuckold, finds that the language
of love isn’t English. Kiera Knightly is part of a topsy-turvy love triangle.
Emma Thompson paired with Alan Rickman as clever hubby trying to steer clear
of his smoldering secretary.
Got all that? Don’t worry, for the most part, it’s all easier to
follow on-screen. Curtis carefully weaves back and forth between countless romances
with surprising effortlessness as the story counts down to Christmas day. The
heartbreaking love songs and Christmas tunes certainly help set the mood. Tracks
from Kelly Clarkson, Dido, Maroon 5, Nora Jones and Joni Mitchell decimate anyone’s
intolerance to this voluminous narrative.
Between Grant shaking it like a Polaroid picture to “Jump for My Love”
and Sangster literally jumping for love, Curtis treats all the romances with
equal care and attention. Some are just more interesting and meaningful than
others. Who can help but groan when Colin (Kris Marshall), self professed “God
of Sex”, flies from the UK to the USA to score with a willing American
honey? Thompson, however, is heartrending as a woman whose marriage falls apart
before our eyes. In her most pivotal scene, when Thompson breaks down as Joni
croons in the background, you can’t help but fall apart right along with
Everyone is very funny and charming. Curtis is no newbie--he knows what he’s
doing. He is an exacting puppet master plucking at the heartstrings of a receptive
audience. He poses loveable British actors in loveable roles and worms his way
into our hearts. One of his successes is Bill Nighy’s crass washed up
rockstar who induces the warm fuzzies with his hilarious portrayal of former
junkie trying to make a comeback singing a Christmas cover of “Love Is
Be prepared for scattered cameos that let Claudia Schiffer, Mr. Bean Rowan
Atkinson, Elisa Cuthbert, Shannon Elizabeth, Billy Bob Thorton and Denise Richards in on the love.
Really, who isn’t in this film? Love Actually embraces all into
the shameless kind of heartfelt mushiness you’d expect to find in a valentine,
not the romantic comedies of late.
Some critics have panned this film for being saccharine but excuse me, what
did they expect from a Christmas story literally bursting at the seams with
love stories? Love Actually triumphs over all while juggling the ratio of broken
hearts to budding romances skillfully and proving that “love is all around,”
at least in this film.
Commentary on the DVD starring director Richard Curtis and actors Hugh Grant,
Bill Nighy and Thomas Sangster is as uproarious as can be expected. The amusing
deleted scenes could have been included as part of an extended version of Love
Actually. And Richard Curtis is humble enough to pay homage to the sultry music
in the film in “The Music of the Film”.