LOVE ACTUALLY came out in 2003, and in the years since has become a Christmas fave for many. Costing upwards of $40,000,000, producers and studio initially worried they’d miscued, with a mediocre U.S. gross of $59,696,000 just tagging 49th place. But the total global take moved that up to a whopping $244,932,000, 14th worldwide, signalling acceptance of a winning cast in one of the best written, most satisfying comedies of the year. *
Ten separate stories cross-link a host of engaging characters dealing with the agony & ecstasy of that essential element that, for the vast majority of us, can make the rest of the circus worth the admission price, or at least intermittently bearable. Cast, script and connections all click. One audience-pleaser that could actually stimulate post-viewing frolic.
Directed & written by Richard Curtis, who nailed his first go at the former and added luster to the latter, as he’d been the script wizard behind Four Weddings And A Funeral, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’ Diary. **
“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
Wonderful cast: Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Martine McCutcheon, Heike McKatsch, Andrew Lincoln, Keira Knightley, Kris Marshall, Thomas Sangster, Lúcia Moniz, Gregor Fisher, Martin Freeman, Joanna Page, Billy Bob Thornton, Rodrigo Santoro, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rowan Atkinson, January Jones, and spot-on cameos from Denise Richards and Claudia Schiffer. Excellent soundtrack of pop tunes. 136 savory minutes.
* Most of 2003’s rather paltry selection of comedies were lackluster, but the sharp ones that have held their edge include The Station Agent, School Of Rock, Under The Tuscan Sun, Lost In Translation and A Mighty Wind.
** Richard Curtis: “If you write a story about a soldier going AWOL and kidnapping a pregnant woman and finally shooting her in the head, it’s called searingly realistic, even though it’s never happened in the history of mankind. Whereas if you write about two people falling in love, which happens about a million times a day all over the world, for some reason or another, you’re accused of writing something unrealistic and sentimental.”