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Love Actually

It's all about love… actually 

Year: 2003 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Richard Curtis 
Starring: Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, Colin Firth  
An image from Love Actually
Review:

As everyone knows, on Christmas Eve anything can happen, and there is always room for a miracle. However, Love Actually is a lot more than just another romantic Christmas fairytale.

The new Prime Minister (Grant) falls in love with the Number 10 tea-girl (McCutcheon). His sister (Thompson) starts to suspect that her husband (Rickman) is having an affair with his secretary. Meanwhile, unsuccessful and heartbroken writer (Firth) escapes to the countryside to spend Christmas alone, and finds the beginnings of true love with his Portuguese housemaid (Lucia Monis) who doesn’t even speak English. The newly widowed (Liam Neeson) struggles to find the right approach to relate to his lovesick stepson. Superannuated faded rocker (Bill Nighy) is desperate to have a Christmas number one with his cynical version of “Love Is All Around Us”. The brilliant mixture of excellent, experienced actors, including Laura Linney, Keira Knightley, Rowan Atkinson and Billy Bob Thornton, and rising young stars make this movie a real Christmas treat.

All in all, the film explores the theme of love in all its variations by dealing with numerous different interlinking little storylines, giving this film a unique edge in the rom-com genre. Sad, touching, hilarious - all these different faces of love form the glue which binds the movie together. Love Actually is, actually, warm, bittersweet, and touchingly brilliant. The perfect balance of humour and drama, of ‘happily-ever-after’ fairytale stories and sadly unresolved endings is what makes Love Actually truly a one-of-a-kind movie. The charm and magic of this Christmas classic will stick in your mind long after the final credits roll.

Elena Ognivtseva

Archive

Were it not for the sake of marketing abroad, 'Very British' would probably have been added to the tagline 'Very romantic. Very comedy'. Quite simply, Love Actually is as British as romantic comedy can get. From the moment Hugh Grant's Prime Minister states that 'Love actually is all around' we should all know what is in store. Written and directed by Richard Curtis, and bringing romantic comedy regulars such as Hugh Grant and Colin Firth together with a who's who of British talent (Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightly, Alan Rickman to name a few) surely Love Actually can't go wrong.

And it doesn't. Set in London a few weeks before Christmas it follows the intertwined love lives of eight or so would be couples. The plots vary between that of the Prime Minister and his Tea girl, a wife doubting her husband's faithfulness, a husband mourning his wife's death, a boy's first crush, an author and his Portuguese maid, an aging pop star chasing the Christmas number one, and a few others.

The only possible criticism is that perhaps in an effort to find something for everyone, a little too much has been crammed in. Explaining the intricacies of how the many characters relate to each other would be like understanding all the plot lines in Big Brother. And like Big Brother some characters seem to get evicted early.

Richard Curtis and his ensemble cast have stuck to what they know best: Characters realistic enough for you to empathise with, in situations with just enough romantic fantasy to delight Forget that Hugh Grant's Prime Minister would probably have been lucky to win a raffle let alone an election or that four weeks is an incredibly short time for people to have learnt another language or to play the drums. Instead let yourself be swept up in the touching heartfelt relationships, the brilliant cameos and the rousing crescendo ending, that will make you believe that love is all around.

After all, all you need is love.

Debsankar Mitra

Love Actually is the typical 'feel-good' romantic comedy we have come to expect from Richard Curtis, famed for his contributions to Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones' Diary. No intellectual exertion required, his films are expected to ooze 'Britishness', to make us happy, and to include Hugh Grant - and Love Actually fulfils all such expectations!

Set in London in the prelude to Christmas, the film tracks the lives of a multitude of likeable characters in their search for love. Karen is a frumpy housewife, struggling stoically to preserve her festive spirit in the midst of marital problems. In addition to Karen's story we follow the recently widowed Daniel as he attempts to council his precocious stepson Sam, through the trials and tribulations of love. Among others we follow the romantic exploits of Jamie, a recently heart-broken writer; Sarah, a timid officer worker harbouring a secret crush; and David, the newly crowned Prime Minister. Furthermore, the story of Billy Mack, a seedy, aging rock star half-heartedly attempting a comeback, provides a welcome contrast to the other more wholesome, romance driven storylines.

One of the most notable features of the film is the wealth of admired actors who participate. Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman and Liam Neeson all provide decent performances, all-be-it in rather basic, familiar roles. The positioning of particular actors in familiar, recognisable roles, largely contributes to the pleasure the film offers to romantic comedy fans. Hugh Grant's David is a combination of the naïve, puppy-dog persona of his earlier films, and the lecherous, love-rat role we have recently come to associate him with. Similarly, Colin Firth resurrects the Mr Darcy role that did, and continues to, make women fall in love with him.

The comedy value of the film is also a key part of its appeal. Humiliating incidents and moments of social impropriety largely contribute to the comic success. Bill Nighy's performance as Billy Mack is also largely responsible for the film's comic achievements. The character's crudeness and social indiscipline is a source of much amusement.

In addition, the multiple storylines distinguish the film from conventional romantic comedies and give the film a lively, energetic pace through which a light-hearted tone is maintained.

Love Actually is the ultimate mood enhancer and will provide any romantic comedy junkie with a decent fix!

Jessica Gross

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Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Spring Term (35mm)
2003/2004 Spring Term (35mm)
2005/2006 Autumn Term (35mm)
2010/2011 Autumn Term (35mm)
2013/2014 Autumn Term (digital)
2018/2019 Autumn Term (digital)
2018/2019 Autumn Term (digital)