All you need is love
Running Time: 135 minutes
UK Certificate: 15
Country: United Kingdom, United States
I sometimes feel Im all alone in not sharing the national enthusiasm for the quintessentially British films of Richard Curtis. When I watch the likes of Notting Hill or Four Weddings and a Funeral I find it hard to believe they come from the same pen that brought us Blackadder and Not the Nine OClock News. Compared to the biting wit of those early TV shows, this stuff all just seems phony and utterly toothless. Love Actually is a film about love, as the title suggests. Part of the problem is that its not about much else. A marvellous ensemble cast comes together to play out a series of spuriously-linked set-pieces about various dullards getting the hubba-hubbas for each other. Included in the jumble is Colin Firth as a novelist who falls for his Portuguese maid Lucia Muniz, Emma Thompson who suspects hubby Alan Rickman of extra-marital naughties, and Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister who drools over tea lady Martine McCutcheon when not standing up to America (now theres a thought!). From a British perspective, it has the most impressive cast of the year. It mixes faces known for their TV work (e.g. Martin The Office Freeman, Andrew Teachers Lincoln and Kris My Family Marshall) with those already well-known on the big screen circuit such as Grant, Rickman, Liam Neeson and Keira Knightley. The performances are good and the production values are high its just a pity that most of it just isnt particularly funny. Whats more, it substitutes depth for countless sketchy sub-plots, involving a string of characters we never get to spend enough time with to care about. Nor, to be honest, would you probably want to. The majority of them are far from fascinating individuals. Its also unbearably warm and soft-centred, to the point of over-whelming falseness. Particularly vomit-worthy is the thread involving Neesons attempts to guide his stepkid through the pitfalls of puppy love. Pass the sick bag. This is Curtis first stint in the directors chair lets hope he didnt get too comfortable, because this is a film in desperate need of, for want of a better word, direction. Theres no overall focus, and subsequently no overall point. His is a world where gathering crowds of extras are always waiting to applaud whenever any couple share their first kiss, and everyone who falls in love automatically has that love requited. Its a nice world, sure but its also a very boring one.
It's Got: Bill Nighy getting by far and away the funniest scenes in his role as a past-it rocker plugging an atrocious Chrimbo single.
It Needs: A decent ending, as opposed to one that doesnt make a great deal of sense.
Alternatives:Bridget Jones's Diary, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill
Plenty of people will love this film (you know who you are), but personally I couldnt wait to escape the theatre by the time the full 135 minutes had been wrung dry.