movie film review | chris tookey

Love Actually

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  Love Actually Review
Tookey's Rating
10 /10
Average Rating
5.70 /10
Hugh Grant , Liam Neeson , Colin Firth
Full Cast >

Directed by: Richard Curtis
Written by: Richard Curtis

Released: 2003
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: GB
Colour: C
Length: 128

ANTI Reviews

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Nighy knows how to be cheeky and lewdóindispensable tools in any British comicís kit. I could have used more of him and less of the other stories, especially the one with Colin Firth as a jilted novelist who falls for his Portuguese housekeeper (Lucia Moniz). For a long time, their love remains unspoken because ó imagine! ó they donít speak each otherís language. Cloying as much of this stuff is, itís not cynical. Curtis seems genuinely convinced that love is all around. Far be it from me to say otherwise. We donít speak the same language.
(Peter Rainer, New York)
If you feel yourself glowing after Love Actually, you might be suffering from sugar shock.
(Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun)
If listing the cast of Love Actually is exhausting, it's even more tiring to watch it.
(Ann Hornaday, Washington Post)
What's the message: that women must remain vigilant about poundage to keep husbands from chasing taut-thighed secretaries? That's a charitable Christmas thought.
(Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer)
Watching all this is like looking under the Christmas tree and finding everything you ever wanted (all those stars!) and everything you don't want (all that bathroom humor!) shoved into one carelessly wrapped package. Open at your own risk.
(David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor)
A patchwork of contrived naughtiness and forced pathos...The loose ends are neatly tied up, as they are when you seal a bag of garbage -- or if you prefer, rubbish.
(Dana Stevens, New York Times)
Gets to be dislikable in its glib feelgoodness. The movie's many excellent actors do too much acting with too little conviction in scenes that rush through perfunctory setups to deliver pat payoffs.
(Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal)
Curtis ladles sugar over the eager-to-please Love Actually to make it go down easy, forgetting that sometimes it just makes you gag.
(Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)
When he isn't overreaching for absurdity, Curtis can write bouncy patter, but each character gets about 60 seconds before the movie jumps deck to the next love-seeker and the next moony pratfall.
(Michael Atkinson, Village Voice)
The result is like watching a dozen or so ultra-cute mini-movies simultaneously. Unfortunately, almost all of them are bad: the word Ďactuallyí in the title is especially perverse, since thereís not a moment in the entire thing thatís remotely genuine. In the short (but not short enough) span allotted to each little tale, thereís clearly no opportunity for characterization or subtlety. So Curtis draws the various couples in the broadest strokes and is content to go for the easiest laughs and smarmiest sentiment at every turn... Itís a chore merely to calculate the number of story threads being juggled here... Only the Nighy episodes have any real spark... The worst of the lot, excepting the moronic John-and-Judy stuff, which is quite beneath contempt, is probably the longest - the prime minister thread - not only because itís the most inane (hereís a world leader who seems to have nothing better to do than pine away over a secretary) but because it features the most unpleasant twist - a visit from a U.S. president (a snotty Billy Bob Thornton) who appears intended to represent both the lip-smacking lechery of a Bill Clinton and the shark-like arrogance of a George Bush. Itís by facing down the president on some matter too trivial to be revealed to the audience and staking out his independence from American control that the PM becomes a national hero. Sure. Most of the other episodes, by contrast, are just cloying and empty.
(Frank Swietek, One Guy's Opinion)
An indigestible Christmas pudding from the British whimsy factory responsible for such reasonably palatable confections as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones's Diary. A romantic comedy swollen to the length of an Oscar-trawling epic ó nearly two and a quarter hours of cheekiness, diffidence and high-tone smirking ó it is more like a record label's greatest-hits compilation or a Ďvery specialí sitcom clip-reel show than an actual movie... In his opening voice-over, Mr. Grant establishes a new standard for bad taste masquerading as its opposite when he introduces this fluffy farrago, written and directed by Richard Curtis, with a reference to the World Trade Center attacks... The problem is that the movie, more than any of the characters in it, is a mess of crossed signals, swerving between cynicism and sincerity without quite knowing the difference between them. It is most grotesque when it tries for earnest drama, parading the grief of a widower (Liam Neeson) and the humiliation of a middle-aged wife (Emma Thompson) before us when it thinks our throats need lumping. It is disturbing to see Ms. Thompson's range and subtlety so shamelessly trashed, and to see Laura Linney's intelligence similarly abused as a lonely, frustrated do-gooder. The fate of their characters suggests that women who are not young, pert secretaries or household workers have no real hope of sexual fulfillment and can find only a compromised, damaged form of love.
(A.O.Scott, New York Times)
Feel-good schmaltz creeps into every nook and cranny... The film, despite its impressive all-star cast, is beset by rampant sentimentality and contrived plotting, and doomed by a cloying, pretentious didacticism... Love Actually may want to show us the wondrous, unexpected ways love can blossom, but given Curtisís ham-fisted orchestration, all we get is an obnoxiously predictable and disingenuous romance gift-wrapped for the holidays.
(Nicholas Schager, Slant Magazine)
This is a superficial film of low intellect with an equally low moral tone.
(Tony Medley,
If straight male porn offers guys the graphic fantasy spectacle of women engaging wantonly in emotionally unattached sex, a movie like this one - in which men cry, say they're sorry, cook, listen closely, remember to phone, propose in public spaces, turn down sexually available younger women and love hanging out with children - offers a kind of opposite-sex mirror image: men so sensitive they're like the porn stars of romance... In hardcore, women drop their moral guard and put out. In Love Actually, men drop their reserve and cry. If the movie wasn't such a baldly commercial, slickly calculated exercise in romantic wish-fulfillment - there are no eye-moistening stops left unpulled here, from last-minute airport reunions to men showing up on doorsteps on Christmas Eve to profess their love - there could be something interesting in it: A kind of Stepford Husbands scenario, in which all men represent idealized female fantasy. But this is a movie that aims purely to please, not to parody, so every element of its engineering is devoted to the stimulation of maximum warm and fuzzies. Understandably, most men will try to avoid Love Actually with the white-eyed clawing panic of a dog being dragged into a bathtub.
(Geoff Pevere, Toronto Star)
Unnecessary extended sexual scenes detract from the film's overall drollness... A shy young couple meets. They are naked stand-ins for the stars of an erotic movie. The not-too-subtle gag is that though the duo pretends to perform a variety of sexual acts for the camera both are sweet, almost naive characters who end their first real date with an innocent grade-school peck, and are thrilled by it. Nevertheless, the viewer is taken aback as the filmmaker includes borderline lewd visuals within an otherwise engaging story... With the exception of Laura Linney, the Americans portrayed in the film come off rather shabbily. The American president (played with veiled dignity by Billy Bob Thornton) is a sleazy womanizer and American females are uniformly ditzy and promiscuous... The film is seriously marred by the inclusion of the unwarranted, brazen sexual visuals.
(US Conference of Catholic Bishops)
Nighy is barnstormingly brilliant... Everything else is rubbish. Well, not all of it, and not total rubbish, but none of the little plots is all that funny or humanly convincing and none has room to breathe or develop... This kind of comedy has just hit the wall.
(Peter Bradshaw, Guardian)
An embarrassment, an overdrawn rom-com gone very, very wrong. Alternately sentimental and silly.
(Tom Charity, Time Out)
This may well be a commercially successful one: a flagrantly manipulative mish-mash of styles and over-cooked sentiment.
(Jenny McCartney, Sunday Telegraph)
Itís like being assaulted by a gang of singing cherubs wielding sticks of candy floss; itís like drowning in treacle and then being rescued by a puppy that licks your face; itís like having your brain bombarded with Valentine-card cliches. Richard Curtisís directorial debut, Love Actually, is the look of luuurve, the sound of ick and the cheap sob of schmaltz.
(Cosmo Landesman, Sunday Times)
Made me feel like a steak being tenderized by a butcher furious about his divorce, or the traffic, or something.
(Antonia Quirke, Islington Tribune)
Mawkish bilge.
(Henry Fitzherbert, Sunday Express - though his editor, Martin Townsend, published his own review alongside that of his film critic, saying ďI loved every stupid minute of it and, like all the best films, it left me with a big, dopey smile on my face.Ē A bit worrying for Henry, that.)
Love? Actually, no. More like disappointment, and, at times, hatred... Glibness is all around. At the start of Love Actually a voiceover from Hugh Grant (speaking in his prime ministerial capacity?) invokes the attacks on the World Trade Centre. It's an incredible moment of chutzpah, a grotesque piece of emotional blackmail that seeks to enlist the thousands of men and women who died on September 11 as part of the back-story for this lightweight froth. This eruption of reality also means that Curtis can't excuse its more flimsy and ludicrous elements by claiming it's just a fantasy... There is one very good reason to watch Love Actually: Laura Linney, as subtle and sympathetic an actress as is alive today. The rest of it is as easily digestible but value-free a compendium of "feel-good" cliches as I Love 1973. How odd that a film that champions emotion should seem so schematic, compiled rather than felt, as full of genuine Christmas joy as a high street shop-window display.
(Sukhdev Sandhu, Daily Telegraph)

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