Love Actually (2003), directed by Richard Curtis, is one of those heart-warming romantic comedies I just can't get enough of. The humour is always fresh, a la You've Got Mail, and the romance is as sweet as its gets, but not overly so. I've watched Love Actually a countless number of times, and what strikes me is the fact that I never get tired of it. Every time I watch it, I find myself warming to the characters, smiling at the jokes, and when the film's over, I'm left with a warm fuzzy-happy feeling.
The movie follows the stories of separate people, all inter-related somehow, set in and around London. It's about love in its many manifestations, about love in different forms. Love that knows no class boundaries - the Prime Minister falling for the tea-lady. Unrequited love - the man who has a crush on his best friend's wife. Love with an obstacle- the woman unable to continue a relationship with the man she loves, because of her mentally ill brother. Love with a language barrier - the writer who is taken with the charms of his Portuguese housekeeper. Love despite being cheated on - the wife who chooses to stay with her philandering husband for the sake of her children. Love in an unusual place - two actors taking to each other on the sets of an erotic film. Love in mourning - the husband who cannot get over his wife's death. Love in terms of friendship - the old rock ' roll star who begins to appreciate his manager's efforts. And childish love - the boy who has just lost his mother, falling for the 'coolest girl in school'.
Love Actually is a movie with soul - it's a movie that reaches out to you, makes you feel good, and makes you feel that really and truly, love is all around us. It shows itself in the strangest of places and situations, often it may not be romantic - it may be a childish crush, or it may even be lust - but the point is that it exists.
Is there blatant stereotyping in the film? - possibly. Does one need suspension of disbelief? - Yes, in certain parts. Is the story a little forced at times? - perhaps. But that doesn't change the fact that Love Actually is a very genuine film that speaks to you, it's enjoyable, the script is great, and there are some fantastically funny moments that leave you laughing - like when the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant) dances down the stairs, and when Jamie and his Portuguese housekeeper jump into the water to recover his manuscript. The cast is a great one - watch out for the likes of Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley, and many, many more. Rowan Atkinson's guest appearance, too, is extremely memorable.
This movie has character. It has depth. Yes, perhaps the plot is unrealistic at times (would the US President try to grope the tea-lady? No way. Would the UK Prime Minister go door-to-door with only one bodyguard? Yeah right!) But at the end of the day, it is a movie, and sometimes, cinema is allowed to stretch itself, to be slightly unreal, because often, what we want in cinema is not reality, we want to be convinced that what we do not feel in the world around us does actually exist, in some way or another.
Love Actually is an absolutely delightful homage to love. Whenever I watch it, I find myself warming up to the characters, no matter if I don't identify with them the slightest bit. While it was made specifically for the holiday season, I think it's relevant to any time, any place - it's a film that has the power to convince you that love exists - fulfilled or unfulfilled, happy or sad - it doesn't matter. It's a strong emotion that reaches out and grips you, and Love Actually does exactly that.
Don't classify this is as a chick-flick, or sweet-as-sugar romance. I think it's much more than that - it's a commentary on life itself. Watch this movie for an instant pick-me-up, some great laughs, a general feeling of happiness, and if you're a girl- you're bound to be swooning at Firth, Grant, and Neeson! Just when you thought things couldn't get better, eh? *grin*