Love, lust and longing – this is the triumvirate behind Richard Curtis’ latest film.
The writer and director of “Love Actually,” is in love with the idea of love. His film is 10 stories in one, interwoven and interrelated. Curtis doesn’t discover anything new, but he does offer an enjoyable and amusing holiday flick.
The all-star cast is perhaps the biggest draw – Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightly and more play their roles with the frolicsome panache befitting a romantic comedy. Caught in their love triangles, unrequited overtures and tentative longings, some sail to happiness while others stumble.
“Love actually is everywhere,” explains the new Prime Minister, played by foppish Grant, as the film begins. Obviously based on Tony Blair before he backed Bush, he’s more interested in one of his employees than actually running the country. Because he’s Hugh Grant, it works.
Rickman, Thompson and Linney both bring pathos to the film – the only incidences of it. A middle-aged man bewildered and excited by the attention of his saucy secretary, Rickman contemplates an affair just in time for the holidays. Linney, on the other hand, has back-breaking family obligations that force her to make choices.
Bill Nighy’s Billy Mack, an aging has-been pop idol, is dependable comedy. He pulls it all together. Cynical and self-deprecating, his media blitz for a new song – actually, merely a tweaked old song – is worth watching.
“Kids, don’t buy drugs,” he intones on live television. “Become a pop star and they’ll give them to you for free.”
The story lines go on and on – newlyweds, kids with their first crush, discovered infidelities, young men who want desperately to get laid.
Each story overlaps into others. Though convoluted at times, somehow it never gets confusing. Perhaps 25 minutes too long, “Love Actually” is still fun and easy to watch.
“The thing about romance,” explains Neeson’s 11-year-old stepson, “is you never get together until the very end.”
There’s movie truth in that.
Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.
***1/2 out of 5
Directed and written by: Richard Curtis
Starring: Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln, Keira Knightley, Laura Linney, Billy Bob Thornton