- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Universal Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
arried by an impressive ensemble cast of British imports like Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley and Emma Thompson, "Love Actually" is quite possibly the biggest romantic comedy to date. It's also one of the best, and although its lengthy runtime will put some viewers' patience to the test, the stories are so funny, charming and heartwarming that it's likely to become an instant holiday classic.
Writer/director Richard Curtis introduces nine different interweaving stories throughout the film, but leaves little room to fully develop any of them. Hugh Grant stars as Britain's newest Prime Minister, a young politician who has fallen in love with his "chubby" assistant, Natalie (Martine McCutcheon); his sister Karen (Thompson) is having her own relationship problems with her husband Harry (Alan Rickman), whom she suspects may be cheating on her with his secretary; and when Harry isn't drooling over the sultry Mia (Heike Makatsch), he's busy helping a lonely employee named Sarah (Laura Linney) win the affections of her office crush at the risk of abandoning her duties of taking care of her mentally ill brother.
Meanwhile, Daniel (Neeson) tries to cope with the death of his wife over phone calls with Karen while also training his stepson on how to deal with girls; Jamie (Colin Firth) leaves his cheating girlfriend to find love with his Portuguese housekeeper (Lucia Moniz); and his friend Juliet (Knightley) discovers that her husband's best pal (Andrew Lincoln) is in love with her, despite the cautionary space he leaves between the two.
Unfortunately, we get to see very little of the film's funniest storylines. Disheartened by his luck with love in Britain, Colin (Kris Marshall) heads for the United States where he believes that women will fall head over heels for his British accent; rock legend Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) tries to revive his once-successfuly career with a Christmas cover of "Love is All Around"; and in the oddest tale of the bunch, two adult movie stand-ins (Martin Freeman and Joanna Page) strike a friendship while simulating sex scenes.
"Love Actually" boasts a plethora of big laughs and a wildly talented cast featuring both British screen veterans and newcomers to create a film that appeals to everyone – even 11-year-old boys who haven't yet experienced their first taste of love. Though some storylines are better than others (Firth's romancing of Moniz is heartmeltingly sweet), Curtis does well to neatly tie all nine stories together like a game of six degrees of seperation. Packed with plenty of laughs and even a few tearjerker moments, "Love Actually" is not only a great movie for Christmas time, but just about any time of the year.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
Universal's Blu-ray release of "Love Actually" contains all of the bonus material from the original DVD, including an audio commentary with director Richard Curtis and actors Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy and Thomas Sangster, deleted scenes, cast interviews a short featurette on the film's music, and a pair of videos by Billy Mack and Kelly Clarkson.