What’s better than a triumphant British love story?
Multiple British love stories. Richard Curtis obviously understands
the mind of the hopeless romantic, and demonstrates this knowledge
in his new uber-romantic comedy, “Love Actually.” When
it comes to breathless teary-eyed screen romance, Curtis’
philosophy is clearly the more the merrier. And with the likes of
Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Laura Linney leading the
way, it is difficult to argue.
Prior to “Actually,” Curtis enjoyed success as a
writer on the romantic comedy front with “Four Weddings and a
Funeral,” “Notting Hill” and “Bridget
Jones’ Diary.” His combination of exaggerated displays
of affection teamed with quirky accented characters delights
shameless romantics and anglophiles alike. “Actually”
is a love letter to those devoted fans, peppered with magnified
versions of what worked for him in the past, meaning more foolish
dancing, more impossibly perfect kisses and definitely more
“Actually” takes no chances in casting, lacing an
already star-studded cast with random cameos ranging from Rowan
Atkinson to my personal favorite, Billy Bob Thornton as the
president of the United States; a thoroughly inspired choice, not
to mention a less-than-subtle dig at our country’s eagerness
to blur the line between politics and celebrity. To his credit
Curtis, plays fair, assigning Britain none other than Hugh Grant as
the British prime minister, an equally scary thought.
Plot is obviously not Curtis’ biggest concern here, as the
film essentially becomes a marathon collage of virtually countless
love stories that ultimately all tie together nicely. The stories
vary widely from the prime minister’s romantic excursions to
Firth’s lonely forty something who stumbles upon love with a
Portuguese house maid. The troubled marriage between Karen (Emma
Thompson) and Harry (Alan Rickman) adds a rare but appropriate
The overwhelming volume of characters and their respective love
lives inevitably creates some confusion, and somewhere around the
halfway mark time begins to take its toll. Yet the multiple stories
turn out to be a mixed blessing as they also keep up the pace and
insure ever-changing scenery.
Several fresh faces add variety to an already diverse cast.
Martine McCutcheon’s timing and charismatic presence make her
the perfect choice for the prime minister’s love interest.
Also delightful is Thomas Sangster, as Liam Neeson’s adorable
“Actually” may be shameless in its pursuit of
feel-good goose bumps, but at least it makes no pretenses. The
promised, irrepressibly optimistic holiday date-movie, is exactly
what this is. Within the limitations of its scope,
“Actually” delivers the goods, making it a definite
must see for any self-respecting love story aficionado.