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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Hugh Grant
Alan Rickman
Emma Thompson
Colin Firth
Liam Neeson
Bill Nighy.
Directors
Richard Curtis.
Screenwriters
Richard Curtis.
Running Time
135 minutes

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Love Actually
Richard Curtis directs this typically British yuletide Rom-Com starring Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman


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Plot
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the love lives of several people living in London intertwine…


Review
After penning two of the biggest British films of recent years - Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill - it's only natural that Richard Curtis should expand his film career into direction.

There is plenty to like about the film. Grant, for example, makes for an endearing Prime Minister (even if he seems to spend more time trying to woo Martine McCutcheon than actually engaging in politics). Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson are a pleasure to watch, while Bill Nighy almost steals the entire film as a foul-mouthed, drug-addled rocker (his confrontation with a poster of Blue on an Ant-and-Dec-hosted TV show is worth the admission alone).

Other comic highlights see Grant indulging in one of the best bits of hallway dancing since Risky Business, and Firth virtually recreating his most famous Mr. Darcy moment by diving fully-clothed into a lake. And Curtis even throws in a few self-referential nods to his earlier work, including Nighy's character re-recording Love Is All Around complete with cringeworthy Yuletide theme.

However, this is a complex, densely-plotted affair, and in trying to tell the individual stories of so many people, you get the sense that Curtis has bitten off more than he can chew. He seems comfortable enough behind the camera - it's a well-made, good-looking film enlivened by frequent picture-postcard shots of London - but too many of the stories themselves are left wanting.

One, featuring Kris Marshall heading for Wisconsin, in search of rampant sex, goes nowhere, while a potentially interesting subplot involving Laura Linney's magazine worker and her mentally ill brother seems to be forgotten halfway through and ultimately is never resolved. While there's no denying Curtis' ambition, paring down some of the tales would have made the more interesting ones even stronger. The final reel also disappoints, combining a bunch of seen-it-all-before set-pieces with an unpleasantly manipulative finale.

The latter isn't helped by wildly over-the-top orchestral music that wouldn't sound out of place in an epic war movie, and a sense that the audience is being quite literally ordered to laugh and cry at key moments. Given that there is a really good film at the core of Love Actually, it's a pity that such aspects let it down.

Curtis is a rare talent (let us not forget he wrote Blackadder), and it would have been great to see him tackling something a little more challenging and different for his directorial debut. That said, it's a formula that works and, as crowd-pleasing mainstream Britcom goes, it's a relatively solid, if flawed, entry into the genre.


Verdict
Overlong and over-sentimental, this is nonetheless a fairly entertaining way to spend a couple of hours, and it’s great to see so many of the UK’s best actors sharing screen space. While never quite scaling the heights of Four Weddings or Notting Hill, it’s a perfectly respectable debut for Curtis.


Reviewed by Caroline Westbrook


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Love Actually
Empire Star Rating

Sweet And Effortlessly Likable

I'm not a huge fan of romantic comedies myself, but the sheer scope of Love Actually drew me in immediately. Super performances from all the leads (the notable exception being Emma Thompson, who has rarely been worse), and cleverly woven, intricately told storylines that swoop and glide up to their individual crescendos. It's definitely overlong, and most certainly lacks its' own identity, but this is, nonetheless, an enjoyable and entertaining romcom, and the best genre exercise since Four Wedd... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 17:17, 15 March 2011 | Report This Post


Even after five viewings I still think that this is one of the best (if not the best) romantic comedy/christmas film of the last years. Beautiful, loveable characters in cute storylines that are woven together excellent at the ending. Even the world biggest hater of rom com will be become a little happier after seeing this. I did, anyway. An excellent film. 8,5/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 13:27, 02 January 2010 | Report This Post


I LOVE THIS MOVIE! Each year I can't stand not to watch it before christmas! It's great fun and the cast is amazing: emma thompson, alan rickman, hugh grant ...there's even a hillarious scene with rowan atkinson in it!! it's not that typical christmas movie and that's what makes it so enjoyable!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FanaticalAboutFilm at 17:46, 15 September 2009 | Report This Post


So lovely funny.

Hilarious, sweet and charming. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 20:17, 29 March 2008 | Report This Post


So lovely funny.

Hilarious, sweet and charming. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 20:16, 29 March 2008 | Report This Post


Worth fours stars because despite it's flaws, at the end of it all, there is an overwhelmingly warm, and genuine feeling from it. the biggest problems are the conclusions (or lack of), and some stories could have been cut out, some of the sections had 5 star written on them. Liam Neeson's story is superbly done, perhaps even better because it contrasts with sentiment elsewhere in the film. Besides Neeson gives an incredible performance in a limited time period. The ambition of linking so many st... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr. Lowry at 00:30, 13 December 2007 | Report This Post


The best rom-com ever made

Come on guys Love Actually is fantastic! As a self confessed loather of rom-coms this is a great movie, hilarious at almost every minute, well acted and at the height of enjoyableness. All the acting is nearly flawess (apart from Laura Linney, the film's letdown) and this film is a great way to feel the Christmas spirit. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Pinguman at 04:58, 11 November 2007 | Report This Post


Dire

Plot Coherence is a funny old thing, isn't it? It makes some films, and yet others thrive with no leading plot strand whatsoever. However the idstiinct lack of plot in Love Actually is so terribly noticeable due to the fact that there isn't anything to laugh at either, let alone a plot to follow. A couple of the characters are funny, Kris Marshall's trip to America is worth a few chuckles, and Bill Nighy's aging rocker is worth a couple of laughs, but these do not make up for the huge gaps where... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by swordsandsandals at 15:50, 31 July 2007 | Report This Post


Really enjoyed this film to be honest. Thumbs up. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FortWilliamLoyal at 13:10, 13 July 2007 | Report This Post


Were you lot watching the same film?!

This film is amazing in every possible way and I'm disgusted that it only got three stars! What's wrong with you Empire!!!!!!!!!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Empo at 11:46, 10 July 2006 | Report This Post


not bad

romantic, funny, comical, multiple storylines really enjoyed it... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alexisreaver2132 at 12:32, 17 May 2006 | Report This Post


A soundtrack...that must have cost a fucking bomb.

The problem with creating an ensemble peice like this, is keeping the audience interested and focused, caring about every single little sequence. However, the biggest problem that can derive from this, is the audience caring about every single character. And that really does not happen here. Okay, the stories that are good. Alan Rickman and Emma Thompsons, interrupted marriage is credible and beautifully acted, especially Thompson. The Hugh Grant arc, is pretty good, Hughie does a good ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mentalchaffinch at 20:14, 15 February 2006 | Report This Post


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