Love, Actually


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"This is like the female-oriented equivalent of the testosterone driven action blockbuster. It's the estrogen filled tender love story. Hugh Grant is women's answer to Steven Segal."


Love, Actually
The Masked Reviewer

Notting HillFour Weddings and a Funeral.  Bridget Jones' s Diary.  What do all of these films have in common? 

A) They all are touching movies that show the bittersweet nature of ephemeral yet everlasting love.

B) They all star British heartthrob Hugh Grant.

C) They all are exactly the same movie.

Many men, dragged kicking and screaming by their wives/girlfriends/dates would argue that the correct answer is C.  Love, Actually can easily be added to the above list, whichever answer you choose.

If you can't convince your date to go see Kill Bill again, don't dread seeing Love, Actually too much.  It does a fine job for what it's trying to do.  Just like Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Bridget Jones's Diary.  For those of you who are eagerly awaiting the sequel to Bridget Jones's Diary (Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason), this film may give you the chick-flick-fix you need to tide you over until it's released in 2004.

Love, Actually is one of those films with several stories going on at once.  Lots of couples, living their lives, going through their relationship trials and tribulations.  They don't seem to be connected, but they overlap in parts.  It's almost like watching a PBS documentary about charming British couples, although they do sneak in a few Americans.

The all-star cast includes Hugh Grant (who plays the Prime Minister of England), Colin Firth (Bridget Jones's Diary -- he's kind of like a back-up Hugh Grant), Laura Linney (Mystic River (2003), The Truman Show (1998)), Liam Neeson (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Darkman (1990), and Krull (1983)), Keira Nightly (Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)), Martin McCutcheon (hmmmm...nothing much yet), Bill Nighy (he played Viktor the head vampire in Underworld (2003)) Alan Rickman (the bad guy from the first Die Hard (1988)), Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility (1995), Remains of the Day (1993)), and Rowan Atkinson (Bean (1997), Johnny English (2003)) .  There are also a number of cameos which won't be spoiled here.

The acting is good across the board.  There aren't any Academy Award (tm) moments in the film, but it mixes sad moments with happy moments and sappy gushy lovey-dovey moments.  It's all well-done, and never gets too hokey.

Liam Neeson's scenes co-feature a young boy named Thomas Sangster.  You may remember him from such TV movies as "Hitler: The Rise of Evil."  He played a young Hitler, which always looks good on a resume.  He's a very fine child actor, and he provides many of the movie's best moments.  One might even believe that he got the part due to his acting skills, and the fact that his cousin is Hugh Grant had nothing to do with it.

All of the mini love stories play well, actually, in Love, Actually.  Dare the Masked Reviewer say it...there's something for everyone.  At least, there's something for everyone who likes these kind of date movies.  Everything works, and you'll be interested in how each story turns out.  They didn't resolve all of the loose ends, but they got most of them.  They also didn't do a great job of explaining how all of these people tie together, but for the most part you saw why everyone was in one movie. 

An important note is that Alan Rickman looks better with a beard.  If he has a beard in a film, he'll be good.  He was good in this film, but he didn't have a beard.  If the box office isn't kind to the movie (which seems unlikely), the filmmakers should go back and digitally draw a beard on him.  We have the technology.  We can make him hairier than before.  Hairier...scruffier...fuzzier. 

Another point of interest is that Hugh Grant plays Emma Thompson's big brother.  Perhaps "big brother" in England means "younger", like how they drive on the wrong side of the road or something.  Emma Thompson is actually older than Hugh Grant, but then again, maybe she was acting.

There is a good amount of nudity in this film.  Director Richard Curtis (who wrote Bridget Jones's Diary, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and  Notting Hill) shows great respect for the men who will be forced into seeing this film by throwing in a few bare breasts.  For that, we salute him.

All in all, Love, Actually is sentimental, touching, and sweet.  It's like Parenthood if it were set in England, but before they had kids.  Perhaps it's not that much like Parenthood

If you love Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones's Diary, and Notting Hill...well, you're absolutely sure to love Love, Actually.  If you couldn't stand those films, there is a possibility that Love, Actually may still appeal to you on some level, since they tell several different sappy-sweet love stories, and cover a variety of issues.  There's also some nudity.  But unless you hated those other films, there's a good chance that you'll find it enjoyable even if it's not your -- to quote the British -- "cup o' tea."  It's well-acted, nicely paced, and a movie that makes you feel good. 


Expectation from the Title: Expectation, indeed.  Title, ambiguous.  Pretentious, somehow. 

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Something for everyone to enjoy: love, heartbreak, romance, passion, flirtation, secret liaisons, and smooching.

The Pros: Cute, sentimental, light, funny at times, well acted.

The Cons: This is like the female-oriented equivalent of the testosterone driven action blockbuster.  It's the estrogen filled tender love story.  Hugh Grant is women's answer to Steven Segal. 


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