So, yesterday’s Eyes Wide Shut wasn’t exactly enjoyable. I always say that the worst thing a film can be is boring, and unfortunately it was. Ponderous, dull, and cold, I’m happy to be moving on with my Countdown from Halloween to Christmas.
And today it’s…
8th November, Day 9
Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003)
I normally write a quick synopsis to open up these reviews, leaving my beloved readers intrigued before moving onto my analysis. Love Actually is a bit different though, as it is a series of interlocking stories, so instead I’m going to break the film down into the separate stories.
Hugh Grant is David, a newly elected Prime Minister who falls for Number 10 staff member Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), although a moment with the US President (Billy Bob Thornton) causes David to consider whether they can have a future together.
David’s sister Karen (Emma Thompson) is married to Harry (Alan Rickman), who is an architect working with Laura Linney’s Sarah, who is infatuated with workmate Karl (Rodrigo Santoro), but has to look after her ill brother Michael, which heartbreakingly scuppers her romantic intentions.
Harry’s secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch) attempts to seduce Harry at a work’s Christmas party. Harry buys her a necklace, bringing him into contact with Rufus (an excellent Rowan Atkinson), that Karen finds in his pocket, but when she opens her present and gets a Joni Mitchell CD instead, she realises that Harry is interested (at least) in Mia.
Karen and Harry’s friend Jamie (Colin Firth) comes home early and finds his wife cheating on him with his brother. He goes to a retreat in France to write his next murder mystery novel, and while he is there he falls for Portuguese cleaner Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz).
Another of their friends, Daniel (Liam Neeson) has lost his wife Joanne, leaving him to to look after step son Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster). Sam has developed a crush on a girl named Joanne, and when he finds out that she is singing in the Chritsmas concert, he decides that he will take part in it as well – by learning to play the drums. This story also leads to my favourite line of the film:
Julie (Keira Knightly) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are a young, newly married couple, although best man Mark (Andrew Lincoln) seems to have a problem with the couple. Colin (Kris Marshall) is working to the wedding as a waiter, and after striking out repeatedly (and deservedly), including with a delightful cameo from Julia Davis, he decides that he needs to move to America. Much to the bemusement of his friend Tony (Abdul Salis), he settles on glamorous Winsconsin.
Tony’s day job is working in film, and is currently shooting a sex scene between John and Judy (Martin Freeman and Joanne Page), who awkwardly start a relationship when they are surprised they have something in common, despite being naked around each other.
In the background of theses stories, washed-up rock star Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) is attempting a comeback with the ludicrous “Christmas Is All Around” – a festive cover version of The Troggs song – with the help of his long suffering manager Joe (Gregor Fisher).
Well that’s the film explained in far too much detail! I think it’s pretty clear that I wouldn’t have gone into that much detail if I didn’t like this film a lot. Emma Thompson and Laura Linney are brilliant, and Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, and Bill Nighy are some of my favourite actors so it’s difficult for me to not love them here. Add in the fact that so many of the cast have gone on since to such success (Lincoln, Ejiofor, heck Keira Knightly has come on leaps and bounds since this film) and it’s just great actors doing a bunch of short stories written by Richard Curtis.
There are plenty of laughs out loud moments (“first lobster”, Hugh Grant’s dancing and carol singing, the deadpan delivery of so many lines) and some real heart wrenching ones. Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman get a complex story that adds a bit of weight to the fluff as well.
Ignore the cynical, overly serious online backlash it has had over the last few years – let Love Actually wash over you. Wouldn’t life be better for all of us if we were more prepared to get the shit kicked out of us by love?
Overall, I give this
Yup, back to my old standard of 4 gold ring! It really is just the greatest hits of romantic comedies. And I love it, actually.
We are well into the countdown as we head into double figures. Ten Christmas films already! And what better way to celebrate than with a suicidal cop and his too old for this… stuff partner in LETHAL WEAPON!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
PS Here’s my list so far:
31st October, Day 1: The Nightmare Before Christmas
1st November, Day 2: Rocky IV
2nd November, Day 3: Edward Scissorhands
3rd November, Day 4: Trading Places
4th November, Day 5: Batman Returns
5th November, Day 6: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
6th November, Day 7: Gremlins
7th November, Day 8: Eyes Wide Shut
8th November, Day 9: Love Actually