Richard Curtis does it again

I've been hearing pretty good things about Love Actually, so when Mary Anne suggested it for this afternoon (as part of a sort of anniversary date) I said sure.

It turned out to be fabulous. Totally utterly completely charming. It's heavy-handed in bits, and predictable in places (though several things surprised me a great deal), and one or two jokes fall flat (there are especially too many fat jokes), and a bit too sappy and obviously manipulative in various ways. But those were all minor flaws. I commented earlier this evening that this movie joins Four Weddings and a Funeral and Two Weeks Notice as one of my three favorite romantic comedies (yes, I appear to be even more of a sucker for Hugh Grant movies than I thought I was); that turns out not to be necessarily true, depending on how you define romantic comedy (Singin' in the Rain? When Harry Met Sally? Wizard of Speed and Time? Moonstruck? Better than Chocolate?), but it's definitely in my top ten, and among my favorite movies seen this year.

And though I can't quite say it transcends its genre (somehow I always end up saying that about movies), it does have more serious stuff and more richness of character than I'd have expected, particularly after my disappointment with Notting Hill.

The cast is pretty much uniformly excellent. I don't know that I found Hugh Grant entirely believable as the Prime Minister, but he was so damn charming I didn't care. Colin Firth is lovely as always. Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, and especially Emma Thompson are superb as usual. Keira Knightley continues to demonstrate that she's not only attractive but also remarkably versatile, with her fourth wildly different role in as many years. (Mary Anne, I forgot to mention that Knightley was also the female lead in Pirates of the Caribbean. Oh, and she's 18 and a half years old.) Martine McCutcheon as Natalie and Lúcia Moniz as Aurelia also do fine work. As does Laura Linney (who was in The Truman Show but whose face looked familiar to me mostly because she played Mary Ann Singleton in the Tales of the City miniseries). Oh, and Billy Bob Thornton is suitably vile in a small part as the US President, and Rowan Atkinson does his thing well as usual in a similarly small part. And Thomas Sangster (who can't be more than ten or eleven, I think) was also great. And so on—the ads and summaries for this talk about there being ten main characters, but I count at least seventeen.

If you watch this in a cynical mood, you'll hate it. If you hate Christmas, you'll probably hate this movie. If you're annoyed by sappiness, you'll probably hate it. But I totally adored it.

5 Responses to “Richard Curtis does it again”

  1. JeremyT

    I hate Christmas, and i hate sappy movies, and yet I loved this film as well. I think their ace in the hole is that I am an Anglophile.

  2. Joe

    I loved this movie as well. They played all the storylines well, and I was impressed at how many different stories they managed to intertwine and still give each one enough attention.

    What’s the fourth role you’re thinking of for Keira Knightley? I only know of three significant ones: “Love, Actually”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, and “Bend It Like Beckham”.

  3. Jed

    The other significant role for Knightley I had in mind was as Sabé in The Phantom Menace. It would involve spoilers (though I doubt anyone cares at this point) to explain why it was a significant role even though it didn’t appear to be one; I’ll just say she had a lot more screen time than people initially thought she did.

  4. Joe

    Huh. I don’t think of that as a major role, but maybe I’m underestimating her screen time. I thought there were actually only a very few scenes where she was playing the part…

  5. Thida

    I loved this movie! At first I thought it was perhaps mostly because I find Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson utterly charming. But I also laughed a lot. In fact I and my friend seemed to be laughing when a lot of other folks were silent. I felt the fat jokes (which as far I remember were all about Natalie) were in the same vein as the joke Hugh Grant made about killing Natalie’s exboyfriend. They weren’t meant to be taken seriously. Because Natalie wasn’t fat, but just fat by Hollywood’s ridiculous standards.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t say it was one of my favourite romantic comedies, but it was definitely worth getting a babysitter for and that’s saying a lot for me. I preferred Hugh Grant and Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibility, even though both of them were a bit old for their parts.


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