Love Actually (2003)
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Review Date: November 05, 2003
Director: Richard Curtis
Writer: Richard Curtis
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
Hugh Grant as Prime Minister
Liam Neeson as Daniel
Emma Thompson as Karen
A slew of top British actors get together for a screenplay penned by the man who wrote FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, BRIDGET JONES' DIARY and NOTTING HILL, and proceed to develop several romantic/comedic relationship storylines. What follows is a terribly long review for a film that likely didn't need to be dissected to that point, as well as some fun humor, cute romance and love, people...love!!
When I first saw the studio marketing this film as "the ultimate romantic comedy", I couldn't help but feel really bad for the person who came up with that idea (and who would surely get fired for it sometime later) since it simply set the bar too high for any movie. The ULTIMATE romantic comedy?? Pleaaaaaaze. That said, this film is actually a jolly ol' time and even though the tagline is still a little too self-serving for my taste, it does relate the film's two best qualities, both of which it has in abundance: romance and comedy! Yes, I can say that if you enjoyed films like FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL and BRIDGET JONES' DIARY, chances are pretty great that you will enjoy this fluff-piece as well. The main difference between this and the former films being the lack of character development in this one. Granted, this movie is jam-packed with a "who's who" from the British acting ranks (although someone apparently forgot to invite Kenneth Branagh to the party) with everyone getting a little piece of the film's bigger pie, but in the end, they basically just present us with a bunch of cutesy characters saying cutesy things, reacting to loving moments and ending up in compromising situations that ultimately...well, turn out cutesy or romantic. Wow, now isn't that just the greatest description of this movie? Seriously though, if you're expecting to totally "get into" all of these characters' stories, I don't think you'll be overjoyed with this affair, but that said, the film is constructed so perfectly that you really don't end up caring too much about that anyway.
The truth is that the characters all felt real or "fun" enough to enjoy for over two hours and despite none of them being sizably overbuilt (they all basically have great "beginnings" and "endings", but not much in between), I still cozied up to them, appreciated each story on its own and ultimately, felt great watching the movie, and even prop it for not being all-out "phony" with several scenes of actual drama and "sad stuff" interjected throughout the love affairs. I was expecting the film to run "safe" across the border, but was impressed by its inclusion of heartbreaks, upsets, deaths and adultery. Wow, so it's not just bells and whistles, eh? In fact, being a person in "love limbo" as we speak, I appreciated some of the more honest looks at relationships as much as the funner, over-the-top stuff like that one British dude who believed that he could only get laid if he visited the U.S., so he does and well...see the movie to find out what happens. It's even got some T&A! Wow. I also adored its booming soundtrack, covered in nifty Christmas tunes, its charming look and feel, as well as its many laugh-out sequences (pay close to attention to how Liam Neeson phrases his question about who his son likes in school...hilarious) Some of the stuff that I could have done without included the Rowan Atkinson "cameo", the lame-o hick U.S. President's political scenes, which screamed "look at me, I'm trying to make a point in this film too!", certain scenes that ran a little long, as well as the aforementioned lack of development in some of the stories. But overall, despite that last nitpick, I really was impressed by how well the screenplay developed so many of the relationships and ended them all satisfactorily (and not necessarily "happily")

My brother, with whom I saw the film, also noted how it covered the entire gamut of different kinds of love in the world, including that between husband and wife, brother and sister, friend to friend, father and son, boss and employee, student to student and more. That was another brilliant part of the movie's success, in my opinion, since basically anyone in any circumstance in their life would be able to related to, at least, a few of the characters at the same time. Nice! I was the guy in love with his cat, I guess. Anyway, before I ramble on too long (too late), allow me to prop all of its actors as well, including the stunning Keira Knightley, who despite not having much of a role to play in the film (although the scene in which she watches the videotape is priceless), provided me with just enough "material" for the next few weeks, Hugh Grant, who continues to play the same guy in most of his films, but also, surprisingly, continues to crack me up, the great Alan Rickman, who brings some groundedness to the show, Liam Neeson, whose relationship with the cute kid, I probably liked the best, and even Bill Nighy, who I thought would be a great bore as the "aging British rocker", but who turned out to have some of the funnier one-liners in the entire film. Whether you're single or taken, married or separated, a nice person, an asshole or all of the above, this movie is sure to warm the cockles of your heart with its fun spirit, its many engaging characters, its peppy soundtrack, its relatable storylines and ultimately, its message about love and how it's all around us. That's right, folks...it's around you right now. Look over to your right...you see that person? That person loves you. Now walk on over there and love them right back. Cheers!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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