Published Nov 01, 2003Love is everywhere, in all shapes and forms that lead us through a wide array of emotions, and this is the point that Love Actually is trying to make. In order to show the act of love in all its forms, from lust to heartbreak, this film is divided into several pieces dealing with various scenarios to show the powerful and sought after emotion in all its glory and destruction.
The cast involved to deliver this charming British comedy is quite impressive. There's Alan Rickman playing a married father, until his sexy minx of a secretary begins to seduce him and creates waves in his otherwise happy life with his wife, played by Emma Thompson. Liam Neeson is involved in one of the film's better storylines, as a grieving father who lost his wife and is now taking his young stepson's infatuation with an American girl into his own hands, coaching the boy on how to win her heart. Colin Firth is a victim of a cheating girlfriend and falls in love with a Portuguese woman hired to help around the house while he escapes from the city to write a novel. And, of course, what would a delightful British comedy be without Hugh Grant, who oddly enough plays the Prime Minister of England.
The strength and the weakness of Love Actually tend to lie in the same area. The film may have bitten off more than it can chew in trying to juggle so many plots at once, cramming in as many characters and scenarios as it can. The ambitious approach has to be admired and definitely keeps the viewer on their toes, as the movie shifts from one couple to the next, keeping interest levels peaked. Though this really leaves no room for us to develop any closeness to the people involved and we sometimes forget which story lines are on deck after not witnessing an update in some time.
There are stories that really could have been lopped completely out of Love Actually and might have saved the film from too many cooks in the kitchen syndrome. Billy Mack, an aging rock star who decides that brutal honesty is the key to his comeback, makes for some good laughs but doesn't play an important role in the vision of this film. Also, a fumbling and awkward young man decides the key to his success with women is his accent, so heads to Wisconsin to score with Americans. Casting the likes of Elisha Cuthbert and Shannon Elizabeth to play beautiful yet dim-witted girls causes groans as the writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral resorts to American Pie scripting.
Love Actually isn't as strong as past films written by Richard Curtis, but it still has all the same qualities that we expect, including snappy dialogue and intelligent characters. The problem is that there's just too much happening in this film, and the key part to a successful romance is to be able to fall in love with the characters, and Love Actually moves far too quickly in order to obtain that level of compassion. There's still many emotions circulating and there are some incredibly funny moments, as well as loads of romance, but things really would have gelled if they picked the four strongest plot lines and developed things further. (Universal)