Actually . Universal
Pictures presents a film written and directed by Richard
Curtis. Running time: 129 minutes. Rated R (for sexuality,
nudity and language). Starring
Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Bill
Nighy, Laura Linney, Martine McCutcheon, Keira Knightley,
Emma Thompson, Lucina Moniz, Rodrigo Santoro, Billy Bob
Thornton, Rowan Atkinson.
are too many characters and sideplots in Love Actually,
Richard Curtis's (the writer of Bridget Jones's Diary)
directorial debut, for all of them to be fully developed.
And you know what? I don't care.
is such a good-hearted movie that any real complaints - other
than the aforementioned one - that can be leveled at it are
superficial and, ultimately, inconsequential. There is not
a downbeat or cynical frame in the entire film, but there
is also not a single false or artificial one. Not everything
is fully fleshed out or developed, but everything that's there
is, as may have been implied, an ensemble picture of sorts,
except one where none of the stories truly intersect in any
tangible way. What does connect them, however, is the tone,
the belief that - as is the long version of the title - love
actually is all around us. The key stories are as follows:
Hugh Grant plays the newly appointed British Prime Minister,
who starts a relationship with one of his assistants, Natalie
2) Colin Firth is Jamie, a novelist who goes to a cabin in
France to work on a book, and falls in love with his Portuguese
maid, Aurelia (Lucina Moniz);
Liam Neeson is Daniel, the father of a young boy who has a
crush on a class-mate;
4) Harry (Alan Rickman) and his relationship with his wife
(Emma Thompson), the Prime Minister's sister; and
5) One of Harry's employees, Susan (Laura Linney) is secretly
in love with a co-worker, Carl (Rodrigo Santoro).
are other stories to be told, but those are the most important
and interesting. Also important is Bill Nighy as an aging
rock star, who has released a "crappy" (in his words)
Christmas record in an attempt to make money. Mr. Bean himself,
Rowan Atkinson, has a brief but funny scene in which he plays
a department store salesman.
are tons of funny moments in Love Actually, and plenty
of hilarious ones, as well. None of the comedy is dark or
downbeat, and none of it is cruel. Nighy steals, really, the
entire movie. When appearing on a television special, he gleefully
advises the children watching at home, "Don't buy drugs.
Become a rock star, and then people give them to you for free!"
an ensemble, few of the actors really stand out as better
than the rest of the cast (except for Nighy), but none of
them stand out as being any worse, either. Every member of
the cast is charming, and none of them are unlikeable. There
isn't a villain in the bunch.
one writes romantic comedies like Richard Curtis, and it's
a pity he didn't have enough time to fully flesh out his characters
(reportedly, over 60 minutes of film was cut for time restraints;
if that's true, and if it ends up on a DVD, I'll be the first
one in line to buy it). But these complaints are pointless
in the face of such a joyous experience. You may not be able
to completely overlook its flaws, but if you don't walk out
uplifted and smiling, you must be an unfeeling zombie. Satan
himself was at the screening I attended, and even he
Actually, that's a lie. But it sure makes for a compelling
argument, doesn't it?
2003 Matt Noller