Love Actually

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      There's this snobby bit at the start of the trailer for Love Actually, saying that this movie is brought to you by the people responsible for Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones's Diary. If you are Hugh-Grant-ophobic you must already be heading for the hills. But bear with me. These films were all written by Richard Curtis and he is the writer and director of Love Actually. Curtis has written things that didn't involve Hugh Grant that you might not guess, in particular, Black Adder and Mr. Bean. Curtis and Rowan Atkinson were at Oxford University together. Curtis can definitely write. And Love Actually is another good script. I quite liked this movie. Of course, I am a Hugh-Grant-ophile. But there is something for everyone in this film. The cast is outstanding both on the basis of their acting chops and as eye candy. In addition to Hugh Grant, there is Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Rowan Atkinson, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney and Kiera Knightly.

     Love Actually follows the stories of a large group of loosely related lovelorn people. The newly elected and single Prime Minister of England (Hugh Grant) falls for his secretary (Martine McCutcheon). His sister's (Emma Thompson) husband (Alan Rickman) is considering an affair with his secretary. Another worker in Rickman's office (Laura Linney) tries to find love while caring for her mentally ill brother. A newly single writer (Colin Firth) falls in love with his housekeeper (Lucia Moniz). A newly widowed father (Liam Neeson) deals with his 11 year old son's (Thomas Sangster) first love affair. A old rocker from the 60's (Bill Nighy) finds the meaning of Christmas. And that isn't all the subplots!  The stories are all interwoven and take place in the few weeks before Christmas.

    This is definitely a romantic comedy although there are some serious moments thrown in. It all works pretty well. Needless to say, with all these subplots and many characters, some are better developed than others. Hugh Grant is fab as the Prime Minister. He is definitely having fun with this role. The other star is the boy (Sangster) who plays Neeson's son. He pretty much steals the movie with his pursuit of the love of his short life. Colin Firth also has a lot of fun with his part. Kiera Knightly is suddenly everywhere after last year's Bend it Like Beckham and Pirates of the Caribbean. Nighy is hilarious as an unrepentant Jagger-esque rocker. Rickman, Thompson and Linney are saddled with the more serious subplots. They are good but aren't having as much fun. There may be a subtext that older women are unhappy in love.  Of course, Thompson and Linney are the most interesting and attractive women you could hope for.

    I caught the sneak preview of Love Actually last weekend. It opens everywhere this weekend. I just read the NY Times review which really slammed the movie. I may be swimming against the tide as usual. I think that this is the feel good movie for Christmas. But as an incurable romantic, I can stand a lot of goopy stuff.  My feeling was that Curtis keeps Love Actually from getting too sugary until the very end which was too saccharine even for me. Up until then, it is very good, well written and very funny. I laughed a lot. It will get you in the Christmas spirit.