- Alan Rickman as Harry
- Bill Nighy as Billy Mack
- Colin Firth as Jamie
- Emma Thompson as Karen
- Hugh Grant as David
- Martine McCutcheon as Natalie
- Laura Linney as Sarah
- Liam Neeson as Daniel
- Thomas Sangster as Sam
- Keira Knightley as Juliet
- Andrew Lincoln as Mark
- Martin Freeman as John
- Joanna Page as Judy
- Kris Marshall as Colin
- Rowan Atkinson as Rufus
- Billy Bob Thornton as US President
Over the Christmas period, I only got chance to see a couple of movies. Love Actually happened to be one of them. I’m not the biggest fan of romantic comedies but decided to watch it because of the all-star cast. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Sure there were parts that were clunky and lagged in terms of pacing, but for the most part, I enjoyed it for its cosy look at romance.
Love Actually focuses on various people in the run up to Christmas in London and how love affects them in different ways. We have Billy Mack, an ageing rock star trying to make a comeback with the help of his put upon manager. Harry, the manager of a designing agency who has his head turned by his provocative secretary and whose wife Karen begins to suspect something. Jamie, a writer who vacations in a French cottage after catching his wife cheating on him. He begins to fall for his Portuguese housekeeper Aurélia, although he can’t profess his feelings as he doesn’t speak Portuguese. David, the newly elected Prime Minister begins to develop feelings for Natalie, a junior member of staff in 10 Downing Street. Sarah, a worker at Harry’s agency is left with the difficult decision as to whether she make a move on an enigmatic worker or care for her mentally ill brother. Daniel is grieving for his late wife while finding out about his stepson Sam’s crush on a girl in school. Mark records the wedding of his best friend to the stunning Juliet, who he has always adored but has never spoke. And the stories just keep on coming as love changes the lives of the characters in the seasonal time of year.
Writer and director Richard Curtis creates a film that is unabashedly sentimental but this does add some charm to it. With so many stories, Curtis manages to keep most of them interesting. Although some fall flat and don’t engage as much as the others. The whole segment with the character Colin, who travels to America in the hopes of attracting woman, could have been cut as it is funny in parts but a little needless in comparison to the rest of the tales on show. Also, some of the actors are not really used in effective ways to make them interesting to the audience. Martin Freeman and Joanna Page are both talented but their story of two body doubles falling in love never really goes anywhere.
Now, on to the positives of Love Actually. Despite being saccharine, it does have a bittersweet tone to various chapters. Mark’s pining for Juliet, who finds out when she watches the wedding video he recorded and finds it is composed of footage solely of her, is a bittersweet tale . This story may have its limitations in terms of character development, but is still an enjoyable segment none the less. Out of the star-studded cast, Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson and Laura Linney are the standout performers. Bill Nighy is absolutely hysterical as the washed up rocker attempting to reach Christmas number one. Emma Thompson is natural and moving as Karen, the wife of Harry who feels sadness for the fact her husband is attracted to his secretary. The scene in which she stands in her room, tears falling from her eyes after expecting to get a necklace as a present ( it is in fact for the secretary) , but instead receiving a CD is touching and melancholy to say the least. Laura Linney is luminous as the conflicted Sarah, caught between her caring side that wants to help her ill brother and her lonely side that wants love from someone. That isn’t to say the rest of the cast isn’t good, but these three stars are the ones you will most remember. Colin Firth is excellently suited to the role of Jamie, who is enchanted by his housekeeper. Liam Neeson managed to be warm and caring as the grieving father, helping his son as he feels the neglect love can inflict and he tries to impress his crush at school. Thomas Sangster excels as the pining Sam, head over heels for the most popular girl in school. Andrew Lincoln and Keira Knightley rise above the limitations of their tale to give us the now memorable scene of him professing his love for her through cue cards. Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon are good as the lovestruck PM and the junior member of staff who are drawn to each other in a reversal of the Notting Hill formula. Fun cameos are provided by Rowan Atkinson and Billy Bob Thornton.
It may be sentimental and cloying, but Love Actually does manage to warm the heart and doesn’t fall into the same old convention of everyone ending up happy. The fact that some of the relationships in the film don’t work makes it more interesting and not as clichéd as many a romantic comedy. Not for everyone, but cosy and festive viewing for romantics.