Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary; Deleted scenes; Promo;
Making of; Music highlights; Storytellers; Music video 'Christmas
Is All Around'.
A ROMANTIC comedy-drama, directed by the man who wrote the screenplays
for Four Weddings and a Funeral and Bridget
Jones Diary, and featuring a whos who of British
cinema and television, was always going to struggle to fully realise
the sum total of its many ambitions.
Yet, for the most part, Richard Curtis star-studded Love
Actually succeeds in becoming the unashamedly romantic slush-fest
it so clearly wants to be, fuelled by some great performances
from a terrific ensemble cast, and capable of putting a smile
on the face of even the most hard-hearted cynic with its deft
mix of life and love in London.
The plot is divided between several romantic scenarios, from
the funny to the poignant, to the downright fairytale. Hence,
we have everyone from Hugh Grant, as a love-struck bachelor Prime
Minister, who falls for his cockney tea-lady (Martine McCutcheon),
to a jilted writer, who retreats to the south of France, only
to find himself hopelessly smitten with his non-English speaking
The weightier fare comes from Liam Neeson, as a widower attempting
to build a relationship with his distant step-son (who himself
harbours a crush for the prettiest girl at his school), and Emma
Thompson, as a middle-aged housewife, who is beginning to suspect
her husband (Alan Rickman) of playing away from home.
And if that wasnt enough to chew over, then theres
a bride (Keira Knightley) having problems with her husbands
best man (played by Andrew Lincoln) and, best of all, an ageing
rock star (Bill Nighy) attempting to make a comeback at any price.
With so much going on, and so much talent on show, it is little
wonder to find that certain stories fail to realise their potential,
while certain actors become lost in the mix.
Renowned stage performer, Chiwetel Ejiofor, for instance, who
so shone in last years Dirty
Pretty Things, is quite simply wasted in the story involving
Knightleys bride and Lincolns best man, while the
story involving Laura Linneys shy romantic almost becomes
forgotten amid the desire to deliver one crowd-pleasing ending
Curtis, too, seems content to trade on the familiar, using the
F-word to comic effect once again (as he did in the opening moments
of Four Weddings) and throwing in enough chases down streets after
loved ones, and last-minute airport dashes, to have you baying
for some restraint.
His decision to include some political commentary into the Prime
Ministers segment also feels awkward and misjudged, with
observations on Tony Blairs administration and US-Anglo
relations feeling a little unwarranted in such escapist fare.
Where Love Actually really comes into its own, however, is in
the little touches, such as Grants reference to Margaret
Thatcher as a sexy minx, or Lincolns hopelessly
romantic doorstep wooing of Knightley, using only written cards.
Kris Marshalls comic turn as a sandwich seller determined
to take his English accent to Wisconsin, in order
to get some sex, is also particularly funny, as is any scene involving
Nighys wretched rock star, who has a penchant for telling
it like it is, and romping away with every scene he is in (his
exchange with Ant or Dec is a blast).
But while Nighy emerges as the undoubted star, it is Thompson
who walks off with the best moment, a silent breakdown in a bedroom,
after she has realised that her husband is, in fact, having an
affair, that is a wonderfully realised triumph of under-statement.
It is during moments such as these - both comic and heartfelt
- that Curtis confirms his reputation as the king of the British
romantic comedy/drama, and which should have women everywhere
rushing to see it.
And while Love Actually may ultimately be the type of film which
makes girls gush and guys groan, its hard not to be charmed
in some way.