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Love Actually
2003 - R - 135 Mins.
Director: Richard Curtis
Producer: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Duncan Kenworthy
Written By: Richard Curtis
Starring: Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Keira Knightley
Review by: David Trier
   
Love actually is all around us. And aside from this not being much of a point, it can make for an entertaining and at times even touching movie.

The film follows the budding and wilting love lives of various loosely connected Brits as they stumble about looking for happiness. Hugh Grant plays Tony Blair Part II (Blimey’s Revenge), a new liberal prime minister and eligible bachelor who won’t be pushed around by the Americans and wouldn’t mind being pulled on by his caterer (Nina Sosanya). His sister (Emma Thompson) might be learning the hard way that her husband Harry (Alan Rickman) fancies his sultry secretary. One of Harry’s employees (Laura Linney) lusts after a co-worker (Rodrigo Santoro) but may be overwhelmed with caring for her sick brother. Liam Neeson mourns his wife’s death while advising his young son on his first love. Colin Firth’s cheating wife throws him into the arms of a Portuguese housecleaner. Keira Knightley’s wedding to proves uncomfortable for a close friend. A horny young loser follows his loins to America. Two porno stand-ins get to know each other on the set. And Bill Nighy plays a washed up old rock star making a comeback with a Christmas song, only to learn “love” is the people who stick by you through it all. Yes, if this synopsis is any indication, love is freakin’ all over the place. Somebody get a mop.

Love Actually is frequently funny and this alone makes it above average. Bill Nighy essentially reprises his role from Still Crazy and it remains laugh-out-loud hilarious. Martin Freeman of BBC’s The Office has a very funny understated role. And Rowan Atkinson plays a small but memorable character sure to bring a smile to any grinch. Beyond the well-written jokes and cleverly awkward moments, the film also boasts magnificent dramatic performances from Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson.

Much of the romance is pretty stupid. Some stories are moving and even inspiring, but most are not. The love story between a prime minister and his “servant” will never appeal to me. In addition, the British fantasy that they were bullied into Iraq (like they weren’t in it for the money) seems a rather pretentious way to get unnecessarily political in this romantic comedy, although Billy Bob Thornton as the American president makes for some entertaining moments. Colin Firth’s language barrier subplot is highly unoriginal, while he is without a doubt an excellent actor and delivers well. Laura Linney’s lust for her Latin co-worker is rather disappointing. And the best friend’s unrequited love for one recently married is uncomfortable to say the least.

But Love Actually’s biggest problem is that it has about half a dozen too many characters (if you didn’t notice). More than once, seemingly insignificant subplots return to disrupt the more interesting ones from reaching conclusion, reminding us that Love Actually doesn’t, uh, actually have much of a plot. It occasionally suffers the delusion that it’s a Robert Altman flick or something and that pulls it down from being great. However, in the end, it is still truly enjoyable and guys should let their girlfriends drag them to it.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

 
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