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Love Actually (2003) - Christmas film review

Written & Directed by Richard Curtis

Starring Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Martin Freeman & Andrew Lincoln

Christmas film review by Chris Olson

A sumptuously glorious example of British comedy prowess, Richard Curtis is on fine form with this delectable Christmas film treat, Love Actually, which has enough movie stars to start our own Walk of Fame around Trafalgar Square (lightbulb?).

Christmas in London is not usually a magical time: bustling streets rammed with bargain-crazed shoppers, frightfully chilly weather, and gloomy darkness which sets in far too early. However, Love Actually manages to not only make London seem festive during December, it makes it look romantic as well.

Following a selection of different couples, Curtis’ film explores the many different facets of love - positing the idea that “Love is all around”...and yes that is unashamedly stolen from The Beatles. Many will have seen this classic British comedy, enjoying Hugh Grant as Prime Minister or Bill Nighy as a foul-mouthed rock star, and few would question its recipe for success. Indeed, Curtis’ lovingly baked movie is basted with a delicious script, oozing with great performances, and surrounded with an enticing aroma of originality.

Other movies which have attempted this format and structure have very often fallen short (see New Year’s Eve (2011) and Valentine’s Day (2010)), so what is is about Love Actually that is a winning combination?

Straight away the film has an easy charm which comes across far easier in British films than American holiday-based rom-coms. This is complemented with an affable cast of self-deprecating characters, all of whom embody the very British sense of sharp wit and irony, rather than muscle tone and actually saying what you think. Another reason why Love Actually stands tall amongst other genre failures, is its variety.

Rather than one wholesome thread about love conquering all, Curtis’ film is a tapestry of themes, coalescing with vibrant colours and, in places, heavy emotions. Whilst love interests are followed, and new crushes develop, there is also heartache and sorrow for certain characters. For example, Liam Neeson plays a widowed father of one who is struggling to find his feet in his new role and Andrew Lincoln is a man in love with his best friend’s gal (Keira Knightley), which is beautifully portrayed without loads of schmaltz.

Like a classic Christmas dinner, Love Actually is beautifully served with all the trimmings. No ingredient is missing, or undercooked, and there is plenty of spectacle from beginning to end. It is lavish and splendid, but not in a way which leaves you feeling overly stuffed or sick from the richness, instead it leaves a warm feeling in your belly and a festive cheer on your face.

Come back tomorrow for your second Christmas film review.


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