out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
|*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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