ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  richard curtis

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  128 minutes

RELEASED  -  7 november 2003

DISTRIBUTOR  -  universal pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  love actually

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $47,500,000
love actually - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from love actually at

buy the dvd from love actually at

follows the love lives of several residents in london.

when this screenplay first emerged in 1993, jim carrey was attached.


picture from love actually

picture from love actually

picture from love actually


three out of four possible stars

Though it might have proven an easy task to write nine separate love stories, combining those stories into a 120-page screenplay where each of those stories runs concurrently must have been quite a task for screenwriter and director Richard Curtis. Even more daunting must have been the prospect of directing what turned out to be a cast that included nearly every working actor in Britain today. Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, lone American Laura Linney, Alan Rickman, Billy Bob Thornton, Rowan Atkinson, German model Claudia Schiffer - and the list goes on, for many, many miles.

But coaxing believable and affecting performances out of each of these actors apparently wasn't an impossible task for Curtis, as each and every one of the stories is an interesting one. With his films having grossed over one billion dollars world wide (he is the first British screenwriter to have attained this distinction), Curtis has been involved, as a writer, in many successful films. Ironically, three of the largest grossing films were Hugh Grant starrers (Four Weddings, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones), so since Grant has a significant role in this film as well, might the formula for success be complete in Love Actually?

Of course as strange as it seems, director Curtis appears to have some sort of fat phobia, as nearly every story-line in the film includes self-deprecating comments about a character's own fatness or a fat-themed nickname hurled at another character in the scene. Emma Thompson at one point bemoans her inability to wear anything other than clothing recently discarded by Luciano Pavarotti. And "Natalie," Martine McCutcheon's well-played character, is constantly the brunt of fat jokes, though it's difficult to believe she could ever be considered heavy or even remotely fat.

And playing writer "Jamie," Colin Firth meets the sister of his love interest "Aurelia" (played by Lúcia Moniz), and seems struck dumb by her fatness. The comments aren't usually offensive on their own, but when combined into the large lot of them that appear in this film, it almost seems to be a running theme. Perhaps preoccupation of and joking about weight is a national past-time in Britain?

It seems worth pointing out that Keira Knightly's recent box office success in The Pirates of the Caribbean and Bend It Like Beckham seem to have earned her name a place above the title in this film, though her story is hardly one of the main lines. Excepting her rather distracting dental work (or lack of it, rather), her performance is more than suitable, but it's possible her inclusion on the movie poster (when there were other, possibly more deserving, candidates for above-the-line billing) was made mostly as a marketing decision rather than as a creative one.

Though there are a few stories that quite possibly could have been edited out of the picture for time purposes (the film runs a shade over two hours), it's safe to say that each of the characters is an entertaining one and all of the players, large and small, bring enthusiastic life to their roles. But one can't help noticing that not all of the stories are given their due in the third act of the film. Because the number of love stories covered is so gigantic, expect to see some of the characters and their stories forgotten around the end credits.

It was obvious some give and take with concerning each love story had to occur for time's sake, but doing some additional "taking" might have proven to be a smarter move, given that romantic comedies aren't usually near this long. And the fact remains that an audience always wants to see the two people in any love story either come together or fall apart, so it's disappointing to see a few of the stories fail to reach their full resolution.

Love Actually is almost like an experiment in ensemble cast filmmaking, as it's doubtful a production has been mounted before involving so many separate stories. The theme that love is "all around us" and is "in the air" is a heartwarming one, and brief opening and closing sequences as Heathrow airport give the film a real-life perspective and book-end the film neatly. The performances across the board are played with intelligence, with Emma Thompson standing out with the film's superior performance and Hugh Grant making quite possibly the most hilarious Prime Minister ever portrayed on film.

Writer/director Richard Curtis has created a film with a familiar theme that should appeal to a wide audience and has woven together a series of stories with his usual entertaining zeal for dialogue. The film has the added benefit of starring a top-notch cast in comfortable yet well-acted roles. Hilarious in nearly every scene, audience will probably be rolling in the aisles during far too many scenes to notice any deficiencies in editing.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content © 2000 - 2005 - ninth symphony films - photographs © universal pictures 2003
home | archive | ratings | links | about | contact