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Love Actually 



Directed by: Richard Curtis

Written by: Richard Curtis 

Main Cast:

Bill Nighy - Billy Mack
Gregor Fisher - Joe
Rory MacGregor - Engineer
Colin Firth - Jamie Bennett
Sienna Guillory - Jamie's Girlfriend
Liam Neeson - Daniel
Emma Thompson - Karen
Lulu Popplewell - Daisy, her daughter
Kris Marshall - Colin Frissell
Heike Makatsch - Mia
Martin Freeman - John
Joanna Page - Just Judy
Chiwetel Ejiofor - Peter
Andrew Lincoln - Mark
Keira Knightley - Juliet
Hugh Grant - The Prime Minister
Nina Sosanya - Annie
Martine McCutcheon - Natalie
Laura Linney - Sarah
Abdul Salis - Tony
Thomas Sangster - Sam
Alan Rickman - Harry
Rodrigo Santoro - Karl
Wyllie Longmore - Jeremy
Declan Donnelly - Dec
Élizabeth Margoni - Eleonore (as Elizabeth Margoni)
Lúcia Moniz - Aurelia
Rowan Atkinson - Rufus, jewellery salesman
Emma Buckley - Jamie's sister
Sheila Allen - Jamie's mum

Rated R  

To sum up: It's five weeks before Christmas in London. Several people whose lives are loosely connected star in a grand, glorious celebration of love. This film was made by the Brits? This is so optimistic of them.

“There was more than one lobster at the birth of Jesus?”

     As I approached the theater, I saw in front of it a long line of people waiting to get in. Based on the large amount of women and older people in the line, I quickly surmised that this was indeed the line for "Love Actually" and not "The Matrix Resolutions". I'm smart like that sometimes.     

     Ok. Try to keep up. It's Christmas in London. Aging, bedraggled rock stat Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) has just produced a remake of the rock classic "Love is All Around" entitled "Christmas is All Around" and hopes to make it a number one holiday seller. Jamie (Colin Firth) moves into his holiday home in France to get some writing done and takes a liking to his new Portuguese house keeper Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz) even though neither can understand a word the other is saying. Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Juliet (Keira Knightley) have just gotten married, putting a strain on Peter's best friend Mark (Andrew Lincoln) who isn't exactly friendly around the new bride. The new Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) has taken a shine to one his assistant, Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), and is perplexed on how to approach her. Meanwhile Sarah (Laura Linney) has spent two + years pining away for coworker Karl (Rodrigo Santoro) while her boss Harry (Alan Rickman) is trying to decide how to deal with the very obvious advances of his secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch) while still being married to Karen (Emma Thompson). Poor Daniel (Liam Neeson) has recently lost his wife and is trying to form a new bond with his stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster), who himself is in love with a classmate. Colin (Kris Marshall) is convinced that he can't meet women because English girls are stuck-up and the solution to this is to go to America. And finally, John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page) are nude body doubles who are awkwardly taking a liking to each other.
     Now if you could follow that, then you're up to seeing "Love Actually" the amazingly feel-good film from the creators of "4 Weddings and a Funeral", "Notting Hill", and "Bridget Jones's Diary". It tosses all of these plots into the air and for the most part juggles them in very pleasing and attentive ways. It's peppered with all sorts of romantic moments including a highly romantic wedding gag, professing love with cards like a  Bob Dylan video, and evading airport security to profess one's love. If love isn't all around, then at least romance is. 

     One of the things that the film explores is the universal conditions and approaches to love that people from all walks of life have. Take for example shyness. Whether you're already naked with the girl due to being a nude body double or the Prime Minister of England, both situations are amusing as their efforts to strike up a conversation result in the person pathetically fumbling their words as embarrassed awkwardness shuts down their brains. Even when you can't understand one another like Jamie and Aurelia the shyness and trepidation still exists.

     By far the biggest draws of the film are Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, both of whom appeared in "Bridget Jones's Diary" . But everybody gets equal time in this film. Of note is Grant who comes off as a likeable, strong, literally door to door Prime Minister; even standing up to the President of the United States. In short, he's a politician of the movies. Also enjoyable is watching Liam Neeson's character find the ability to get over the death of his wife by helping his stepson get together with the girl that he's in love with. We call this "Distraction Therapy". And it should be noted that if Liam doesn't come away with a romance with Claudia Schiffer, as he jokingly answers when his stepson asks him who he wants to date, he at least gets the next best thing. It should also be noted that little Thomas Sangster as said stepson is great in the role. He comes off as a very natural, likable little tyke; quite a competent little young actor. Watching this little guy perform is one of the pleasures of the film. Also good  was Emma Thompson (Surprise. Surprise.). She gives her usual top of the line performance. Though it was a little scene, I found the moment when she is alone in her bedroom, trying to regain her composure after she's just learned some devastating news to be another fine example as to why this woman is such an excellent actress. Laura Linney, hopelessly pining away for her hot co-worker Karl, to the point of staying late to be alone with him so she can muster the courage to say "goodnight", is able to elicit sympathy as her personal family matters pull her in the opposite direction of romance. And of course, stealing the film is Bill Nighy as the aging rocker Billy Mack. His politically incorrect verbal affronts to all things dealing with good taste shockingly provide huge laughs as he spews forth bad advice about drugs, insults the latest boy band, comments on sex with Britney Spears, and cuts down his own song and even his poor manager (Gregor Fisher).

     It was with him that I was starting to wonder, in the paraphrase of another song, "What's love got to do with that?" Billy Mack had no love interest that I could see. Where's his love, love? For I went in thinking that this was a romantic comedy. The film surprised me by becoming much more. Yes, it's actually about love but it deals with many aspects of love; love as a commitment, love of friends, sacrificial love, love amidst betrayal, love for the well-being of another - it's love all over the place. That little extra bit of depth helped improve the film and bring it to a whole new level.

     If there are any dropped balls in this juggling act, it's Colin and his search for American dream girls and the love story of the nude body doubles John and Judy. While they provide many laughs, especially Colin as he heads to a magical place in America, they ultimately don't add much to the themes of love that are well covered by the other stories. Though enjoyable, they do slow down the film a bit.

     Overall, this film was exactly what I had hoped it would be, a smart, witty, cheerful celebration of love that fully placated my desires for feel good romanticism just in time for the holidays.

     I actually love this movie.

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