Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 127 minutes
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Written and directed by Richard Curtis, the same bloke who gave us great romantic treats like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget Jones’s Diary finally gets behind the camera to direct his own vision into reality this time. The result is a fun film that actually has so many storylines that it’s bursting at the seems with passion, humor and even controversy in a film that is about all things love and then some. It’s a fun film that is packed with one love story after another, which prevents the film from dragging but can be a bit seen as a bit of a romantic comedy overload, which is all right for those who didn’t mind Overdosing on this genre of film. It’s a great movie for couples, or people who are in the mood to see a romantic comedy with real substance, something we rarely see in the local theatres these days.
The script for ‘Love Actually’ is bursting at the seems with story where you could write an additional four screenplays with the material that’s stuffed into this film. While there are some might find this cute and fun to watch (especially those with short attention spans) I am sure there are some who will also find this kind of storytelling to be too crowded, and jammed with characters to the point where you would hope some bomber wiped out half the cast for us so that we could concentrate on a few specific stories. Just when you find yourself getting into one of the stories, they depart from it and move on to another… sometimes never going back to them at all. There are some that were just a waste of screen time and should have been cut out to make more time for the more interesting storylines. Overall, it was an interesting mixture of love stories that made for a great buffet of cliches and happy endings which did happen for some of the film’s stories.
The core of this film is clearly it’s cast. ‘Love Actually’ follows close to twenty people living in and/or around London, England. We join a month before Christmas and watch what happens to them all leading up to the night before the big holiday. With so many stories weaving around and across each other, putting this film together must have been problematic, Curtis manages to orchestrate the bulk with surprising assurance and ease. Hugh Grant is rather funny playing the Prime Minister of England. Once you get used to the idea of him in charge of a country without laughing, his boyish charisma and impeccable comic timing are a joy to watch as he’s in some of the film’s best jokes. In addition, Firth’s typical magnetism is a delight to watch and his story that was a cute talk of miscommunication.
Another great performance came from Liam Neeson, who played a husband who lost his wife and was alone to raise a step-son. One nice moment that was completely the usual cliche of this particular story: the son falls in love instead of the grieving father for a change. A nice twist that made this story more than just the norm. The Alan Rickman/Emma Thompson story brought the film an enormous amount of depth to contrast against all the fluff but sadly there wasn’t enough time for their development, the story ended with more that could have been revealed but it was not. Another story that was a complete joy to watch was the one with Colin Firth. It was a cute and very funny story, especially the sub-titles which lead to physical humor coupled with subtitles that were a riot to read.
While some stories were true and very romantic, there were a few that seemed to miss the mark and were not as entertaining. A good example would be the story with Keira Knightley and Kris Marshall. This story never really went anywhere, and just faded away. Harshall never really played anything more than the loser role I am sure many peopl in the UK are already used to seeing with his role in the soaps. The story with Laura Linney had a lot of potential, but took the wrong direction and also faded without a satisfactory conclusion. And while I though the body doubles were cute, their numerous T&A jokes got old too quickly and could have used less screen time.
There were also a few smaller roles that clearly stole scenes and made the movie that much more special with their presence. One such role was Bill Nighy’s wonderful role as a washed up rock singer trying to get back into stardom with a Christmas jingle based on one of his former hits. Nighy’s character is so popped up and regularly like a naughty deed in a good world that at times made his mere presence a breathe of fresh air. He was a riot in this movie, and had some of the best one liners in the films. Rowan Atkinson’s magnificent cameo is the film’s funniest moment, and is just fitting for a man of his comic genius. While his appearances are brief, Rowan makes the most of them and makes them his own, despite the fact that they’re a part of other ongoing storylines.
While the film has its faults (what doesn’t?), it’s clear to see that this film would have been awful in the hands of different director. One of the best things about this movie is its editing, which in the hands of someone else could have been a complete mess. Curtis seems to do an admirable job running all these stories simultaneously, and his direction along with brilliant editing and clever music that nicely linked scenes together… we are able to juggle these stories with minimal confusion. Because of that, ‘Love Actually’ is a very rich and rewarding film, one that I recommend to those who are in the mood for a really good ‘date movie’ or something sweet and little more realistic for the holidays…
Over all, ‘Love Actually’ is a siege of romantic stories that are funny, touching and at times brilliant. It’s a great movie that I think fans of romantic comedies and those looking for a good date movie are going to absolutely love. It’s a very funny and happening film that succeeds where many other romantic comedies have crashed and burned. It’s has many characters that we can sympathize and care about, and its what makes this film fun to check out. I recommend it for those who are looking around for a good romantic comedy to check out, this very well might be the best RC of the year and is worth going to if you’re in the mood for something about love and romance…
Posted on December 4, 2003 in Reviews by Peter Lowry
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