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Love Actually is a Britishmarker romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis. The screenplay delves into different aspects of love as shown through stories involving a wide variety of individuals, many of whom are linked as their tales progress. The ensemble cast is composed of predominantly British actors.

The film begins five weeks before Christmas and is played out during a week-by-week countdown until the holiday, with an epilogue that takes place one month later.

Plot

The film begins with a voiceover from David (Hugh Grant) commenting that whenever he gets gloomy with the state of the world he thinks about the arrivals terminal at Heathrow Airportmarker, and the pure uncomplicated love felt as friends and families welcome their arriving loved ones. David's voiceover also relates that all the known messages left by the people who died on the 9/11 planes were messages of love and not hate. The film then tells the 'love stories' of many people, culminating in a final scene at the airport enacted to the tune of The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" that closes their stories. The film ends with a montage of anonymous persons greeting their arriving loved ones that slowly enlarges and fills the screen, eventually forming the shape of a heart.

Billy Mack and Joe

With the help of his longtime manager Joe (Gregor Fisher), aging rock and roll legend Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) records a Christmas variation of The Troggs' classic hit "Love Is All Around." Despite his honest admission that it is a "festering turd of a record," the singer promotes the release in the hope it will become the Christmas number one single. During his publicity tour, Billy repeatedly causes Joe grief by pulling stunts such as defacing a poster of rival musicians Blue with a speech bubble reading, "We've got little pricks." He also promises to perform his song naked on television should it hit the top spot. Mack keeps his word—albeit while wearing boots and holding a strategically placed guitar. After briefly celebrating his victory at a party hosted by Sir Elton John, Billy unexpectedly arrives at Joe's flat and explains that Christmas is a time to be with the people you love, and that he had just realized that "the people I love... is you", despite simultaneously hitting Joe with insulting comments about his weight. He reminds Joe that "We have had a wonderful ride" touring around the world together over the years. He suggests that the two celebrate Christmas by getting drunk and watching porn. Billy and Joe's story is the only one exploring platonic love, and the two characters are unrelated to any of the other characters in film, although a few of the other characters are shown watching Billy Mack on their TVs or listening to his song on the radio.

Juliet, Peter and Mark

Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are wed in a lovely ceremony orchestrated and videotaped by Mark (Andrew Lincoln), Peter's best friend and best man. Mark has always been cold and unfriendly to Juliet and tries to avoid her, despite her relationship with Peter. When the professional wedding video turns out to be dreadful, Juliet shows up at Mark's door in hopes of getting a copy of his footage and tells him she wants to be friends with him. The video he recorded turns out to consist entirely of close-ups of her, and she realises that he secretly has had feelings for her. Mortified, Mark creates an excuse to leave explaining his departure as "a self-preservation thing". On Christmas Eve, Mark shows up at Juliet and Peter's door posing as a carol singer with a portable CD player, and uses a series of cardboard signs to silently tell her that "at Christmas you tell the truth," and, "without hope or agenda... to me, you are perfect". As he leaves, Juliet runs after him and kisses him, before returning to Peter. Mark tells himself, "Enough, enough now," perhaps acknowledging that he's found closure and can move on with his life. All three appear at the airport in the closing scenes to greet Jamie and Aurélia, showing that the friendship between Peter and Mark has not been affected by the latter's feelings for Juliet.

Jamie and Aurélia

Writer Jamie (Colin Firth) first appears preparing to attend Juliet and Peter's wedding. His girlfriend (Sienna Guillory) misses the ceremony allegedly due to illness, but when Jamie unexpectedly returns home before the reception, he discovers her engaging in sexual relations with his brother. Heartbroken, Jamie retires to the solitude of his Frenchmarker cottage to immerse himself in his writing. Here he meets Portuguesemarker housekeeper Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz), who speaks only her native tongue. Despite the language barrier they manage to communicate with each other, with subtitles indicating they are at times in agreement with each other, and sometimes of opposite minds without realizing it.

Jamie returns to London, where he takes a course in Portuguese. On Christmas Eve, he decides to ditch celebrations with his family (including his aforementioned brother) to fly to Marseillemarker. In the crowded Portuguese restaurant where Aurelia works her second job as a waitress, he proposes to her in his mangled Portuguese, and she accepts using her recently learned English. The film ends with Jamie and Aurélia, now engaged. At the airport they are met by Peter, Juliet, and Mark. Aurelia jokes that if Jamie had told her his friends were so handsome, she might have chosen a different Englishman. Jamie then jokes that she doesn't speak English well and doesn't know what she's saying.

Harry, Karen and Mia

Harry (Alan Rickman) is the managing director of a design agency. Mia (Heike Makatsch), his new secretary, clearly has sexual feelings for him. His nascent mid-life crisis allows him tentatively to welcome her attention, and for Christmas he buys her an expensive necklace from jewelery salesman Rufus (Rowan Atkinson), who takes a very long time adding ever more elaborate wrapping while Harry becomes increasingly nervous with the fear of detection. Meanwhile, Harry's wife Karen (Emma Thompson) is busy dealing with their children, Daisy (Lulu Popplewell) and Bernard (William Wadham), who are appearing in the school Nativity, her brother David, a politician who just became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and her friend Daniel, who has just lost his wife. Karen discovers the necklace in Harry's coat pocket and assumes it is a gift for her, only to be given the CD Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now to "continue [Karen's] emotional education", as Harry puts it, instead. She then believes Harry is having an affair with Mia, and briefly breaks down alone in her bedroom before composing herself to attend the children's play with her husband. Following the play, Karen confronts Harry over the necklace, who admits, "I am so in the wrong — a classic fool", to which Karen replies: "Yes, but you've also made a fool out of me — you've made the life I lead foolish too," before blinking back tears and enthusiastically congratulating their children. As for Mia, she is shown smiling while trying on the necklace. In the final airport scene, Harry returns home from a trip abroad, and Karen and his children are there to greet him. Harry is delighted to see his kids again; his exchange with Karen is more perfunctory, but suggests that, though the two are not on steady terms, they intend to give their marriage a chance.

David and Natalie

Karen's brother, the recently elected British Prime Minister David (Hugh Grant), is young, handsome, and single. Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) is a new junior member of the household staff at 10 Downing Streetmarker and regularly serves his tea and biscuits. Something seems to click between them, but with the exception of some mild flirting, neither pursues the attraction. When the President of the United States (Billy Bob Thornton) pays a visit, his conservative attitude and flat refusal to relax any policies leave the British advisors stymied. It is only after David walks in to find the President attempting to seduce Natalie that he stands up for the UK at a nationally televised press conference, saying Britain is a great country for things like William Shakespeare, Harry Potter, The Beatles and David Beckham's right foot ("David Beckham's left foot, come to that"), and chides the President by saying that "a friend who bullies us is no longer a friend." Concerned that his affections for Natalie are affecting his political judgment, David asks for her to be "redistributed." Later, while looking through a sampling of Christmas cards, David comes across a card signed "I'm actually yours. With Love, Your Natalie." Encouraged by this he sets out to find her. However, he knows only the name of her street not her full address. After much doorbell ringing, including a ring at Mia's house, David eventually finds Natalie at her family's home. Hoping to have some time with Natalie, David offers to drive everyone to the local school for the play, the same one in which his niece and nephew are appearing (as he realises only when his sister, Karen - still unsteady from her recent discovery of her husband's suspected affair - spots him and thanks him for finally managing to come to a family function). The two watch the show from backstage, and their budding relationship is exposed to the audience when a curtain at the rear of the stage is raised during the big finale and David and Natalie are caught in a passionate kiss. Undeterred, they smile and wave. In the final airport scene, as David walks through the gate at the airport in the finale, Natalie - heedless of the surrounding paparazzi - runs straight through his entourage and leaps into his arms, planting a big kiss on him.

Daniel and Carol; Sam and Joanna

Daniel (Liam Neeson), Karen's friend, is introduced in the film during a funeral for his wife, Joanna. Her death, caused by an unspecified long-term illness, has left Daniel and his stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) to fend for themselves. Daniel must deal with his sudden responsibility, as well as the perceived end of his love life. ("That was a done deal long ago", he says to Sam, "unless, of course, Claudia Schiffer calls, in which case I want you out of the house straight away, you wee motherless mongrel.") Sam, too, is especially forlorn about something, eventually revealing that he is in love with an American girl from his school, also named Joanna (Olivia Olson), who he assumes does not know he exists. After seeing Billy Mack's new video in a store window, he comes up with a plan, based on the premise that "girls love musicians. Even the really weird ones get girlfriends." With Daniel's encouragement, Sam teaches himself to play the drums, eventually acting as top for Joanna's performance of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" at the aforementioned Nativity Festival. Unfortunately, Sam's drumming fails to secure Joanna's attention the way he had hoped. After the play, Daniel consoles Sam, who is also heartbroken over recent news of Joanna's return to the United Statesmarker, and convinces him to go catch Joanna at the airport.

While Sam dashes off to collect his things, Daniel bumps into another parent, Carol (played by Claudia Schiffer), and sparks immediately fly. Sam and Daniel leave to find Joanna before she and her family board their flight to America. Once Daniel and Sam arrive, the attendant refuses to let Sam through. However, while the attendant is distracted by another passenger, the jewelry clerk Rufus, Daniel encourages him to go on without the attendant seeing and Sam is able to sneak through and race past the security checkpoint. With the gate staff distracted by Billy Mack's promised naked performance on TV monitors, Sam is able to reach Joanna and confess his love to her just as she is about to board the plane. He is brought back to his stepfather by security guards, but Joanna runs back to Sam to give him a kiss on the cheek. In triumph he leaps into Daniel's arms. In the finale, Daniel and Sam have returned to the airport with Carol and her son as Sam awaits Joanna's return. When Joanna walks through the doors, Sam says, "Hello," restraining the impulse to embrace her. Daniel curses, "He should have kissed her..." but Carol soothes him, "No, that's cool."

Sarah, Karl and Michael

Sarah (Laura Linney) first appears at Juliet and Peter's wedding, sitting next to her friend Jamie. We learn she works at Harry's graphic design company, where she has been in love for years with its creative director, Karl (Rodrigo Santoro). Harry lets her know that the love has been a secret to no one, including Karl, and suggests that since it's Christmas, she should approach him. Following the company's Christmas party (hosted at Mark's art gallery), Karl comes home with Sarah, with both having the intention of a sexual encounter occurring. However, Sarah's mentally ill brother, Michael (Michael Fitzgerald), calls and interrupts the couple not once but twice as they attempt to begin. The second time, Karl suggests she not answer (asking whether her answering him will make him better). The suggestion effectively ends their relationship. On Christmas Eve, she wishes Karl a Merry Christmas. As Karl leaves, he approaches Sarah and begins "I–", but then ends merely with "Merry Christmas." Afterward, she briefly cries before calling her brother. She is then shown visiting her brother at the institution where he lives, wrapping a scarf around him as he hugs her. Sarah, Karl and Michael's story examines familial love versus romantic love, and explores a scenario when the two are put in conflict.

Colin, Tony, Stacey, Jeannie, Carol-Anne, Harriet and Carla

After several blunders attempting to woo various English women, including Mia and the caterer at Juliet and Peter's wedding, Colin Frissell (Kris Marshall) informs his friend Tony (Abdul Salis) he plans to go to the US and find love there because, in his estimation, that country is full to the brim with gorgeous women who will fall head over heels for him because of his 'cute British accent'. ("Stateside I'm Prince William without the weird family.") The first place he goes after landing in Milwaukee, Wisconsinmarker is an 'average' US bar where he meets Stacey (Ivana Milicevic), Jeannie (January Jones), and Carol-Anne (Elisha Cuthbert), three stunningly attractive women who fall for his Basildonmarker accent and invite him to stay at their home, specifically in their bed, with them and their housemate Harriet (Shannon Elizabeth) ("the sexy one"). They warn him that because they can't afford pajamas, everyone will be naked. In the finale Colin returns to England with Harriet for himself, and her sister Carla (Denise Richards) for Tony. Carla hugs and kisses a startled Tony at the airport, telling him "I heard you were gorgeous".

John and Judy

In a story that was excised completely from the censored version of the DVD release of the film, John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page), who up to this point were unknown to each other, work as stand-ins for the sex scenes in a movie. Colin's friend Tony is part of the film crew, and gives them directions as to the activities they should simulate so that lighting checks and such can be completed before the actors are called to the set. Despite their blatantly sexual actions, and frequent nudity, they are very naturally comfortable with each other, discussing politics, traffic, and previous jobs as if they'd known one another for years. John even tells Judy that "it is nice to have someone [he] can just chat with." The two carefully and cautiously pursue a relationship, and see the play at the local school together with John's brother. In the finale at the airport, Tony, while waiting for Colin, runs into John and Judy, about to depart on a trip together. Judy happily displays an engagement ring on her finger.

Rufus

Rufus is a minor but significant character played by Rowan Atkinson. He is the Selfridges jewelery salesman whose obsessive attention to gift-wrapping gets Harry caught buying Mia's necklace, and later at the airport, his distraction of an attendant allows Sam to sneak through security and see Joanna before she goes back to America. In the original script, the character was revealed to be an angel, and the airport scene showed him disappearing as he walked through the crowd, but this aspect of the character was removed, although he does give Daniel a wink indicating he knows he is giving Sam cover to slip through. Richard Curtis says that with all the storylines already complicating the movie, "the idea of introducing another layer of supernatural beings" seemed over-the-top.

Links

Interconnections Between 'Love, Actually' Characters


Each story is linked in some way except for Billy Mack and his manager who are not friends with any of the characters however appear frequently on character's radios and TVs; his music video provides an important plot device for Sam's pursuit of Joanna. John and Judy work for Tony who is best friends with Colin who works for a catering company that works at the office where Sarah, Karl, Mia and Harry work and also catered Peter and Juliet's wedding. Mia is friends with Mark who runs the art gallery where the Christmas office party takes place. Mia also lives next door to Natalie. Mark is in love with Juliet and friends with Peter. The couple are friends with Jamie and Sarah. Harry is married to Karen who is friends with Daniel and Karen’s brother is David who works with Natalie.

Production

The Working Title Films production, budgeted at $45,000,000, was released by Universal Pictures. It grossed $62,671,632 in the United Kingdom $13,956,093 in Australia and $59,472,278 in the US and Canada. It took a worldwide total of $247,472,278.

Most of the movie was filmed on location in Londonmarker, at sites including Trafalgar Squaremarker, the central court of Somerset Housemarker in the Strandmarker, Grosvenor Chapelmarker on South Audley Street near Hyde Parkmarker, St. Paul's Clapham on Rectory Grove, Claphammarker in the London Borough of Lambethmarker, the Millennium Bridgemarker, Selfridges department store on Oxford Streetmarker, Lambeth Bridgemarker, the Tate Modernmarker in the former Bankside Power Stationmarker, Canary Wharfmarker, Marble Archmarker, the St. Lukes Mews off All Saint's Road in Notting Hillmarker, Chelsea Bridgemarker, the OXO Towermarker, London City Hallmarker, Poplar Road in Herne Hillmarker in the London Borough of Lambethmarker, Elliott Schoolmarker in Pullman Gardens, Putneymarker in the London Borough of Wandsworthmarker, and London Heathrow Airport. Additional scenes were filmed at the Marseille Airportmarker and Le Bar de la Marine.

Scenes set in 10 Downing Streetmarker were filmed at the Shepperton Studiosmarker.

The scene in which Colin attempts to chat up the female caterer at the wedding appeared in drafts of the screenplay for Four Weddings and a Funeral, but was cut from the final version.

Ant and Dec played themselves in the film (in which Bill Nighy's character referred to Dec as "Ant or Dec"). This refers to the common mistaking of one for the other, owing to their constant joint professional presence as a comedy and presenting duo.

Veteran actress Jeanne Moreau is seen briefly waiting for a taxi at the Marseille Airport. Soul singer Ruby Turner appears as Joanna Anderson's mother, one of the backup singers at the school Christmas pageant.

After the resignation of PM Tony Blair, pundits and speculators referred to a potential anti-American shift in Gordon Brown's cabinet as a "Love Actually moment," referencing the scene in which Hugh Grant's character stands up to the American president. In 2009, during President Barack Obama's first visit to the UK, Chris Matthews referred to the president in Love Actually as an exemplar of George W. Bush and other former presidents' bullying of European allies.

Cast

Alan Rickman Harry
Emma Thompson Karen
Hugh Grant David
Keira Knightley Juliet
Colin Firth Jamie
Lúcia Moniz Aurélia
Liam Neeson Daniel
Thomas Sangster Sam
Martine McCutcheon Natalie
Chiwetel Ejiofor Peter
Andrew Lincoln Mark
Laura Linney Sarah
Rodrigo Santoro Karl
Bill Nighy Billy Mack
Gregor Fisher Joe
Kris Marshall Colin
Abdul Salis Tony
Heike Makatsch Mia
Martin Freeman John
Joanna Page Judy
Olivia Olson Joanna
Billy Bob Thornton President of the United States
Rowan Atkinson Rufus
Claudia Schiffer Carol
Nina Sosanya Annie
Ivana Milicevic Stacey
January Jones Jeannie
Elisha Cuthbert Carol-Anne
Shannon Elizabeth Harriet
Denise Richards Carla
Lulu Popplewell Daisy
Marcus Brigstocke Mikey


Soundtrack

The film's original music was composed, orchestrated, and conducted by Craig Armstrong.

The soundtrack album reached the Top 40 of the US Billboard 200 in 2004 and ranked #2 on the soundtrack album chart. It also achieved gold record status in Australia and Mexicomarker.

Songs heard on the soundtrack include:

Songs in director's cuts:

The UK release of the soundtrack features an additional score track by Craig Armstrong, "PM's Love Theme", and "Sometimes" performed by Gabrielle. However it does not include "Wherever You Will Go" by The Calling. The US disc replaced the Girls Aloud version of "Jump " with the Pointer Sisters' original recording. Craig Armstrong's songs "Glasgow Love Theme" and "Portuguese Love Theme" were also used in the movie but did not appear on the soundtrack.

"All I Want for Christmas Is You" was written and originally recorded by Mariah Carey.

"All Alone on Christmas" by Darlene Love was played in the movie.

When Colin enters his first bar in Wisconsin, "Smooth" by Rob Thomas (featuring Santana) is playing.

Although they were not included on the soundtrack album, the Paul Anka song "Puppy Love" performed by S Club Juniors, and "Bye Bye Baby" by the Bay City Rollers, are heard in the film.

As compared to the original US DVD released in 2004 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment #23293), the 2009 US Blu-ray release (Universal Studios Home Entertainment #61107958) replaces Kelly Clarkson's "The Trouble With Love Is" with "Jump " by Girls Aloud in the scenes leading up to and continuing through the first part of the office party. The Girls Aloud track also replaces the song "Too Lost in You" by Sugarbabes during the end credit roll.

Reception

US Theatrical release poster
Upon its release, the film received generally positive reviews in Britain, although Will Self's review was vociferously contemptuous, saying Curtis' work (with reference in particular to the opening voiceover) was 'the most grotesque and sick manipulation of a cinema audience's feelings that I've ever seen since Leni von Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will'.

Reviews in the United States were mixed, with the film receiving an average rating of 55 out of 100 on Metacritic and 63% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. In his review in the New York Times, A.O. Scott called it "a romantic comedy swollen to the length of an Oscar-trawling epic - nearly two and a quarter hours of cheekiness, diffidence and high-tone smirking" and added, "it is more like a record label's greatest-hits compilation or a very special sitcom clip-reel show than an actual movie... The film's governing idea of love is both shallow and dishonest, and its sweet, chipper demeanour masks a sour cynicism about human emotions that is all the more sleazy for remaining unacknowledged. It has the calloused, leering soul of an early-60s rat-pack comedy, but without the suave, seductive bravado."

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 1/2 out of 4 stars, describing it as "a belly-flop into the sea of romantic comedy... The movie's only flaw is also a virtue: It's jammed with characters, stories, warmth and laughs, until at times Curtis seems to be working from a checklist of obligatory movie love situations and doesn't want to leave anything out... It feels a little like a gourmet meal that turns into a hot-dog eating contest."

Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today stated "Curtis' multi-tiered cake of comedy, slathered in eye-candy icing and set mostly in London at Christmas, serves sundry slices of love - sad, sweet and silly - in all of their messy, often surprising, glory."

Carla Meyer of the San Francisco Chronicle opined "[it] abandons any pretext of sophistication for gloppy sentimentality, sugary pop songs and bawdy humor - an approach that works about half the time... Most of the story lines maintain interest because of the fine cast and general goodwill of the picture."

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly rated it B and called it "a toasty, star-packed ensemble comedy... [That's] going to make a lot of holiday romantics feel very, very good; watching it, I felt cosy and charmed myself."

In Rolling Stone, Peter Travers rated it two stars out of a possible four, saying "there are laughs laced with feeling here, but the deft screenwriter Richard Curtis dilutes the impact by tossing in more and more stories. As a director... Curtis can't seem to rein in his writer... He ladles sugar over the eager-to-please Love Actually to make it go down easy, forgetting that sometimes it just makes you gag."

Nev Pierce of the BBC awarded it four of a possible five stars and called it a "vibrant romantic comedy... Warm, bittersweet and hilarious, this is lovely, actually. Prepare to be smitten."

Todd McCarthy of Variety called it "a roundly entertaining romantic comedy," a "doggedly cheery confection," and "a package that feels as luxuriously appointed and expertly tooled as a Rolls-Royce" and predicted "its cheeky wit, impossibly attractive cast, and sure-handed professionalism... along with its all-encompassing romanticism should make this a highly popular early holiday attraction for adults on both sides of the pond".

Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice called it "love British style, handicapped slightly by corny circumstance and populated by colorful neurotics".

Awards and nominations



References

  1. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=intl&id=loveactually.htm
  2. Love Actually at TheNumbers.com
  3. Love Actually audio commentary
  4. The Telegraph, June 6, 2005
  5. The Telegraph, May 23, 2006
  6. USA Today, September 7, 2006
  7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwlcRtdbD5E&feature=related
  8. New York Times review
  9. Chicago Sun-Times review
  10. USA Today review
  11. San Francisco Chronicle review
  12. Entertainment Weekly review
  13. Rolling Stone review
  14. BBC review
  15. Variety review
  16. Village Voice review


External links




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