Play It Again – Love Actually

Love Actually

By Jess Lomas
November 20, 2013

Play It Again is a weekly feature in which our classic-film connoisseurs revisit a revered motion picture from the annals of movie history, to see if it holds up… or if it has aged terribly. And yes, it takes its name from a famously misquoted Casablanca line (hey, whatever; it fits!). As we near Quickflix’s tenth birthday, we’re looking back on some of the most beloved films from the past decade!

Love is all around you, or rather, Christmas is all around you, in Richard Curtis’ romantic comedy Love Actually (his directorial debut, before The Boat That Rocked and About Time). Those sentiments belong to Bill Nighy’s over-the-hill rock star Billy Mack. As his cheesy song climbs the charts in the month leading up to Christmas, it acts as soundtrack to the romantic lives of loosely connected Londoners looking for their happy ending under the mistletoe.

If you’ve become disillusioned with the breed of romantic comedy centred on its celebrity cast – led by Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve and What to Expect When You’re Expecting in recent years – take heart that the format can work. Some of the character arcs here may stumble – notably Colin’s (Kris Marshall) American expedition to find a mate, which is one of the least rewarding – but when you have Emma Thompson’s note-perfect performance as Karen, a woman learning her husband’s eyes have strayed, it redeems the film’s shortcomings.

Love Actually

The star-studded ensemble also includes Hugh Grant as the British Prime Minister, Colin Firth as a writer who must overcome a language barrier for the woman of his affections, Liam Neeson as a recently widowed father, Laura Linney, torn between duty and love, Martin Freeman, finding companionship in an unexpected place, Keira Knightly as the unobtainable crush of Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead), and Alan Rickman as Thompson’s philandering husband.

Love Actually succeeds where similar genre films fall short, in stringing together memorable moments that complement the vignettes bookending them. Despite the short scenes and constant shuffling between storylines, more often than not we get a true sense of the characters; they’re not just caricatures played by famous faces. Of course, those famous faces do help, and their thoroughly entertaining performances sell the silliness.

Love Actually

The feature competently balances the heartfelt (such as Lincoln’s cue-card reveal to Knightly) with the laugh-out-loud (including Rowan Atkinson’s cameo as a department store clerk with a passion for elaborate gift wrapping). Love Actually is another accomplished feather in writer/director Curtis’ cap.

3.5/5

Love Actually is available on Quickflix.

One Response to “Play It Again – Love Actually”

  1. Martine McCutcheon also deserves a mention as the unlikely object of Prime Minister Hugh Grant’s affection. However, Bill Nighy steals the movie from under the noses of the bigger stars.

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