Director: Richard Curtis

Starring: Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson

Martin Freeman, Andrew Lincoln, Keira Knightley, Hugh Grant

Year: 2003

Every red-blooded American has their favorite holiday movie, the film they must watch while wrapping presents in order to get into the festive spirit.  Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, the classic animated shorts (Rudolph, Frosty, Grinch), or the old favorites like It’s a Wonderful Life; movies mark occasions so very often, and the holidays aren’t the same without your favorite Christmas film.  For me, it happens to be Love Actually.  It not only captures the season in an hour and a half, but presents us with a big-cast romance that has never been done better.  Hollywood has tried, and it seems every month has its own dedicated ensemble rom/com, but none has ever lived up to Love Actually, a story of emotion not only between couples, but between humans & the world around them as well.

Many interwoven stories take place in the weeks before Christmas in London and around the globe, connecting so many with tales of chance, passion, betrayal, heartbreak, and ultimately love.  Jamie’s wife cheats on him with his own brother, prompting a retreat where he meets a beautiful Portuguese girl.  Billy Mack, an aged rock star, attempts a comeback with a dreadful holiday tune.  Daniel & Sam, stepfather & son, grieve the loss of their wife & mother.  Harry & Karen go through the motions of marriage, while his secretary puts on the moves.  Colin dreams of a life in American where women might find him sexy.  John & Judy stand in for stars while filming sex scenes.  Mark watches his best friend marry a girl he doesn’t speak to.  Sarah has longed for Karl since they day they began working together two years ago.  And the new Prime Minister of England finds his aide a horribly arousing distraction.  Love takes many forms, some beautiful, some frightening, but it can’t be denied, especially right before Christmas.

There has never been a better rom/com, except perhaps for When Harry Met Sally, but that film is pure New York City, friends fall in love, wit hiding true feeling, happenstance getting in the way, standard romantic comedy stuff, a film that every movie in the genre has looked up to since the day it was released.  Love Actually is different in many ways I suppose: many connected story lines, both happy & sad endings, a holiday feel, and an overarching point that love is all around, whether we want it to be or not.  Richard Curtis knows how to get you deep down where you’re sensitive; just watch About Time if you dare.  And he does it here in his directorial debut with a skill that has been unmatched since.  And this cast, whoa, just look at these names, each actor giving the natural performance of their lives, many of whom would go on to great things: Freeman as Bilbo, Lincoln in The Walking Dead, Chiwetel Ejiofor in you name it.  This is a film that transcends others, that became to me a special piece of my life above & beyond my job as a critic.  I can’t predict how it will affect you, but I can recommend that you see what it can do.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



By ochippie

Writer, Critic, Dad Columbus, Ohio, USA Denver Broncos, St. Louis Cardinals Colorado Avalanche, Duke Blue Devils