Love Actually (2003)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Ensemble Film, Holiday Film  |   Release Date - Nov 7, 2003 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 130 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - R
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It isn't often that one gets to see a feature cobbled together from a dozen or so rejected script ideas, but that's exactly what prolific British romantic comedy writer Richard Curtis seems to have done with his first directorial effort. Tackling the venerable genre of ensemble comedy with an approach that's more Dr. Frankenstein than Robert Altman, Love Actually strives to encompass the romantic longings of a gaggle of characters both young and old, straight and rampantly straight, wealthy and merely middle-class. The film's prologue narration attempts to establish the overriding importance of love in a post-9/11 world, but many of the characters in Love Actually don't exactly support such a lofty theme; there's a crude bloke dying to get laid (Kris Marshall); an over-the-hill rocker just looking to get paid (Bill Nighy); and at least three randy employers (Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, and improbable Prime Minister Hugh Grant) longing to hook up with workplace subordinates. The film is packed with Curtis' trademark bon mots, stammering heroes, and wry melancholy, to be sure, but the cumulative aesthetic can best be described as "cute" -- certainly not the first word that popped to mind with the writer's more acerbic Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, or Bridget Jones's Diary. Any of Love Actually's plotlines -- well, at least six of them -- might have made a decent film on its own, but taken together, they buckle under the weight of the film's "all you need is love" mantra.