Love Actually (2003) Review | Advent Film Calendar Day 12

Today on The Pulp Conversation’s Christmas calendar you’ve opened the door to 2003’s ‘Love Actually‘, directed by Richard Curtis. Now I know what you’re thinking, “but Hugh Grant’s character was evidently a tory, who abused his power as Prime Minister, and Emma Thompson deserved so much better!” – and you’re right. But don’t let that distract you from the charm of this Christmas classic.

Love Actually tells the story of love, heartbreak, friendship and grief in an intertwining story of friends and colleagues as they go about their lives in the build-up to Christmas. From the offset you’re greeted with a hardened, past-his-time rock star Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) who’s lived his fair share of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and is now fighting Blue for the Christmas number 1 – don’t forget this is 2003 so Blue were popular. Somewhere else in dreary London you’ve got Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Juliet’s (Kiera Knightley) wedding with an erupting fanfare of The Beatles and confetti much to the heartbreak of Peter’s best friend Mark (Andrew Lincoln). Already this is building an all-star cast, lest we forget the film also features TV and film giants Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson as we watch their character’s marriage slowly breakdown at the hands of the foolish Rickman.

Meanwhile as these stories develop, we also meet Hugh Grant’s take on David the Prime Minister, a fun and charismatic politician who I think abuses his power a little bit, but I won’t digress too much. Colin Firth moves out to France to work on his crime novel following the discovery that is his girlfriend is cheating with his brother and falls in love with a young Portuguese house maid (which in hindsight feels a little bit dated). John and Just Judy (Martin Freeman and Joanna page) are two adult film stars (I think) who fall in love through work which ties into the adult film director’s best friend,
Colin (Kris Marshall) moving to Wisconsin to woo the States with his British accent. Lest we forget Laura Linney’s poor character, Sarah, balancing her feelings for her co-worker Karl with caring for her brother. Last but certainly not least, we also meet Liam Neeson’s, Daniel grieving the loss of his wife as he cares for his stepson, Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) who’s fallen in love with a girl from school.

It’s safe to say that Curtis bit off a lot with this project, yet he manages to execute it seamlessly. Giving all the stars a well-fleshed out story, if you excuse some of the cheesy dialogue, and a very fair spread of screen time. Love Actually doesn’t feel in any way forced or unexplained. It nicely tells every story and gives something relatable to anyone at home watching. Not to mention some iconic scenes such as Mark holding the cue cards to tell Juliet how he feels, and literally everybody knows how much Alan Rickman screwed up in buying that necklace for Mia over his wife – props to Rowan
for taking so long with the gift-wrapping.

All-in-all Love Actually is all arou- no I’m joking. But it is a remarkably heart-warming and funny film, one not to be left on your watchlist this Christmas but one to be enjoyed by all.

Words by Ross Carley.

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