Love Actually (2003)
Directed by David Curtis

Artistic & Entertainment Value
* * *

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Synopsis and Analysis
David Curtis' Love Actually is an occasionally entertaining but generally prosaic movie that interweaves the love stories of a number of different characters related to one another by marriage, birth, place of employment, or other circumstances.

The film is well acted; its script is generally competently written, and several of the stories told are interesting or funny. Unfortunately, the movie is completely uninspired, consistently pedestrian, and a number of its narratives are forgettable or worse. Some are frankly contrived, and others are touched upon so briefly it is impossible for the viewer to care about any of the characters who appear in them. The story about the love of a writer (Colin Firth) for his Portuguese servant, for example, is not only forced but is also wholly uninteresting.

Sadly, Love Actually is burdened with a number of other faults in addition to these. Towards the end of the movie there is a hokey chase through an airport. Many of the film's narrative details reveal a fair amount of middle class snobbery, and the flag waving patriotic speech Hugh Grant gives as a newly elected Prime Minister is completely out of place, as is Billy Bob Thornton's satirical portrayal of an American president. Grant does acquit himself well overall, and Thornton shows real comedic talents, but the intrusive and irrelevant political message their characters infuse into the movie is affected and distracts from Love Actually's romantic impetus.

Such grating elements are, however, somewhat counterbalanced by the film's sporadic virtues. Bill Nighy's performance as a washed up rock star who realizes the depth of his friendship with his manager is especially enjoyable and is, perhaps, even funnier than is Thornton's. His story is consistently entertaining and is far more engaging than are any of the others. The actor actually manages to enliven the movie with his presence and to create one of its only truly sympathetic characters.

Ultimately, Love Actually is a mediocre film. It has faults, but nothing extreme. It has virtues, but nothing outstanding.

Review by Keith Allen

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