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Love Actually (2003)

  Directed by: Richard Curtis
Written by: Richard Curtis
Starring: Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Laura Linney, Kris Marshall, Martine McCutcheon, Lúcia Moniz, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson
Links: Love Actually on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Romance

This movie gets: 6.67 (3 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 118th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Love Actually (2003) is also mentioned in em_fiction's review of Billy's Balloon (1998) and mino's review of Magnolia (1999).

"One hundred down, one squillion to go!" - a review by andy-j

For my one hundredth review on nofreelist.com, I was thinking I'd do something TOTALLY DIFFERENT AND CRAZY (and attention-seeking and self-indulgent) to celebrate. Like.. write a review on the back of a postcard and then scan it! Or maybe write a review of all my reviews! Write a review without using the letter e! Review the film Love Actually! Do some sort of a treasure hunt review, which I have no idea how that would work but it sounds pretty awesome anyway! Or how about: write a review in one syllable words! WHOA! Write a review using one word out of every other review I've written! Do it all in rainbow text where every letter is a different colour! SO MANY CHOICES!!!

Anyway, after much contemplation, I finally settled on the option of the Love Actually review. It was by far the most exciting of the above shortlisted nominees. So sit back and yojne! (that's enjoy backwards. SEE? TOTALLY DIFFERENT AND CRAZY!)

Love Actually takes place in a scary parallel universe where Hugh Grant has used his oh-so-familiar, yet undenible and impossible-to-resist charm and good looks to talk his way into the Prime Minister-ship. Good for him! Actually it is a British film, set chiefly in London, which is always nice I think. The President of the United States of America is a womanising sleazebag played by that womanising sleazebag Billy Bob Thornton.

The plot of Love Actually consists of cleverly-intertwined storylines, each one focusing on the ins-n-outs and the ups-n-downs of love. There's the guy whose wife dies, there's puppy love, there's the guy who cheats on his missus, there are the two people who finally get together at the Christmas party, there's the guy who is in love with his best friend's wife, and there's even the deep companionship between a washed up rock star and his ever-faithful manager. And, of course, there is plenty more.

Love Actually is very entertaining indeed. It reminds me of that film (unknown) in many ways. You know, the one with Steve Martin in the cowboy hat where he also mistakes a vibrator for a torch? Sure, it's full of schmutz, it has its sickly sweet moments, but this is tempered by the fact that there are multiple threads of storyline, and so no particular plotline really has the time to turn to total mush. Just as you start to groan at Hugh Grant, it switches back to one of the good stories. And some of the storylines are genuinely great, like the washed-up rockstar and the two porn star stand-ins. To balance out the romantic, there is some ACTUAL comedy - there are some funny moments in there, as well as the serious stuff - some of the stories don't end happily, and this adds a little bit of weight to the whole thing.

I never thought I'd say this but here's a romantic comedy that can be watched more than once because there is so good stuff much happening. Nice and light and fluffy, just like warm apple pie. Oh and fuzzy, which is still like warm apple pie if you dropped it on the carpet and then picked it up and tried to eat it - pretty good, but definitely some stuff that you really could have done without.

andy-j gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Sat 19 Aug 2006

"Romance: check, comedy: check" - a review by pearly

If I hear one more stupid "actually" joke in reference to this film, I'm going to throttle whoever is closest. mino, look out.

Right, now that's over with, here's what I thought of Love Actually. Going in, it starts off in a negative light, cos it's just marketed as the new one from the guys that brought you Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). I don't really remember much about that movie, but it didn't change my life for the better, even though it was one of the few movies of the time that I saw at the cinema (the other memorable one from that approximate period was Dances with Wolves (1990), so it had to be doing better than that, at least). Being so very grungy as I was at the time, Four Weddings and a Funeral probably wasn't the most appropriate choice of film for me, but I don't relive it in my nightmares like I do with Dances with Wolves.

Starting off with low expectations is sometimes a way of ending up satisfied. This is certainly what happened for me with Love Actually. If I had expected too much from it, I doubt that I would have enjoyed it as much as I did, but the thing is, I can see why films like this are popular. That genre of romantic comedy feelgood flicks during which you can just switch off and dream about a life that's better than the one you have: perhaps a life where a foppish good lookin' and lovable prime minister falls in love with you, and you're the most fun and down-to-earth thing about his life is not for me all the time, but I can't deny its appeal.

And, of course, Love Actually has some big names adding to the appeal for lovers of this type of film. Hugh Grant as that same prime minister is the obvious one, and I thought he was perfect for this role. Martine McCutcheon, a lesser known actress, was also perfect in her role as the chick that the prime minister falls for - she managed to stand out in amongst the other big names like Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, and Liam Neeson, which is no mean feat.

There are bits of Love Actually that I wasn't particularly fond of: I've never really liked Rowan Atkinson, and I found him quite excrutiating to watch here. Also, even though I love Martin Freeman in The Office, I found his storyline about falling for the girl he met on the porn set to be one of the stupidest things about the film - it's the kind of thing that would have looked good on paper, but just didn't work onscreen, and should probably have hit the cutting room floor and just made it onto the deleted scenes bit of the DVD.

The only other thing that left me feeling quite befuzzled was the ending. Tying up the ten or so storylines, the characters are all left in happy situations (syrupy sweet situations in fact) except for one pair, who are left unhappy. Leaving people in unhappy circumstances doesn't bother me at all, in fact, I dislike a happy ending just for the sake of a happy ending. No, the thing that bothered me was that there were all these storylines, but only one that ended unhappily. It seemed really odd. If it were 7 happy, 3 unhappy, that would have been fine, but 9 to 1 just sat strangely with me. Odd, huh?

pearly gives this movie 6 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 16 Mar 2004

"Not bad, actually" - a review by mino

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: romantic comedies really aren't my scene. They never have been. However, about the last four romantic comedies I've seen, I've really enjoyed. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age, or maybe romantic comedies are getting better. Or, more likely, I've just been lucky.

Love Actually is another movie from Richard Curtis, of Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) and Notting Hill (1999) fame: a man who clearly has some pretty serious romantic comedy credentials. Perhaps Curtis' success is partially due to the fact that he makes RomComs which are quite accessible to men, largely because they're merely sickeningly sweet, not gut-wrenchingly mind-numbingly diabetic-coma-inducingly sweet — like, say, the films of Nora Ephron. Also, they don't star Meg Ryan, which is frankly a bit of a plus.

It's not going to set the world on fire, but like another Hugh Grant movie I've seen recently (About a Boy (2002)), I've suprised myself by enjoying it so much. Rather than being a simple ‘boy meets girl, boy and girl hate each other, boy ends up with another girl, boy realises his mistake and goes back to the first girl’ type romantic comedy, Love Actually is actually about ten ‘mini romantic comedies’: a bunch of only tangentially-related stories about a bunch of only tangentially-related characters, with just enough tying them together to make a semi-coherent film: RomCom-ettes, if you like. This approach is surprisingly effective: while a single romantic comedy thread tends to wear the patience of even the most docile of the XY-chromosomed, the multiple narrative keeps the interest bubbling along a bit longer.

The key to succeeding in such an endeavour is to make sure that none of the narratives seem to be massively less important than the others, which required a great (oh, how I hate this phrase) ‘ensemble cast’. Well, that's exactly what Love Actually has. Many of the big names of British cinema are here, and none of them really let their end down. Some of the plots are weaker than others: the Colin Firth one is entertaining but a little too sickly, for example, and the ‘porno’ one seems a little bit pointless, and is only there for comic relief — comic relief which is largely unneeded. Perhaps cutting one or two stories could have allowed a bit more depth in the others; I'm not sure. Anyway, the standout story is possibly that of the excellent Alan Rickman, an advertising executive who is struggling to remain faithful to his long-suffering wife, Emma Thompson. Bill Nighy is also great as an aging rocker who is determined to get one last shot at the Christmas hit parade.

Love Actually is very cleverly written, and is genuinely funny, quite deserving the ‘comedy’ part of ‘romantic comedy’ (many don't). It does try a little too hard to be a bit saucy: some of the nudity seems oddly gratuitous (that's the first time you'll ever hear me say that, by the way; weird that I've never ever found this a problem before. Maybe I'm turning into the CAP Alert guy).

One other highlight of the movie: the great little ‘guest’ appearances. Normally, I'm not a fan of the gratuitous celebrity drop-in in a movie: some of the cameos here, though, are really very entertaining, particularly Billy Bob Thornton, Claudia Schiffer, and Shannon Elizabeth.

Actually, there is one thing that annoyed me tremendously about Love Actually: and it's nothing to do with the movie proper, but the advertising material. For some reason, the appearance of Rowan Atkinson in a movie, however fleetingly, seems to be open license for the marketers to promote him as one of the stars. Atkinson does not star in this movie: his role is minor in the extreme. The stupid thing is, his appearance on all the posters serves to effectively deny a spot to someone who does deserve it, such as the hilarious Kris Marshall, who very much deserves a credit, as does the radiant Lúcia Moniz. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that Atkinson's appearance in a movie would be likely to get so many bums on seats that it's even worth wasting the spot on him.

An ending so drawn out and increasingly twee that it makes the much-maligned ending to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) look like a sudden cliffhanger did also leave a bit of a nasty taste in my mouth, but otherwise I have to say I had no complaints. As far as this sort of movie goes, this is about as good as you could hope for.

mino gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 9 Jan 2004

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 3
Average rating: 6.67
Lowest rating: 6 (by pearly)
Highest rating: 7 (by andy-j, mino)
 
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Reader comments

  1. LÚCIA ÉS A MELHOR!!!LEVAS PORTUGAL A TODAS AS FRONTEIRAS!!!NÓS JÁ VIMOS NO FESTIVAL DA CANÇÃO!!UM BEIJO GANDE PA TI!!

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Elis on Sat 31 Jan 2004 02:35 #

  2. The movie was eye candy. The sweetness almost made me want to brush my teeth. I loved it. I guess I am a sucker. Lucia Moriz (Aurelia) is one of the most striking and beautiful women I have ever seen. She was worth the price of admission. I can't wait for her next appearance. What a dish.

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from JOHN FLEMING on Sat 03 Dec 2005 02:48 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.50 (2 ratings)

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