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Love Actually

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Love Actually

Starring: Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson
Director: Richard Curtis
Rated: R
RunTime: 129 Minutes
Release Date: November 2003
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Laura Linney, Rowan Atkinson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Heike Makatsch, Kris Marshall, January Jones, Martin Freeman, Adam Godley, Denise Richards, Emma Thompson

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

Writer Richard Curtis ("Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Bridget Jones's Diary," "Notting Hill") turns director with this engaging, episodic romantic comedy set in London during the Christmas season. There's the newly elected Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) who falls for a junior staffer (Martine McCutcheon), the PM's sister (Emma Thompson) who fears her husband (Alan Rickman) is straying, a grieving widower (Liam Neeson) coaching his young stepson (Thomas Sangster) through the pain of puppy love, a reclusive novelist (Colin Firth) seeking solace in the South of France, a shy spinster (Laura Linney) yearning for a hunky co-worker, a nerdy loser (Kris Marshall) seeking sex, a bewildered bride (Keira Knightley) and an aging rock star (Bill Nighy). Their tales delve into the varied permutations of love - unrequited, romantic, married, platonic and familial - which make people happy, sad, silly, serious, contemplative, even cynical.

But one of the risks of a writer directing his own script (like Robert Altman) is not knowing where to cut. For example, one storyline that should have been eliminated involves sweet-faced porn-movie stand-ins who fall in love on-the-job; their requisite nudity earns the R-rating which is a shame since this should be a feel-good, family-friendly romp. In the ensemble, Hugh Grant is dashingly debonair while Emma Thompson's poignant heartbreak is Supporting Oscar-caliber as is Liam Neeson's palpable compassion, but Billy Bob Thornton seems miscast as a lecherous, bullying American President. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Love Actually" is a sprawling, sentimental 7, as the warm, wistful, whimsical tales unfold and ultimately converge.

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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