MovieScope By Robert Snyder ‘Love Actually’ – Love Overloaded
MovieScope By Robert Snyder
‘Love Actually’ – Love Overloaded
"It’s hard to believe that screenwriter Richard Curtis has a single soap opera subplot left in his brain after "Love Actually."
His newest film is so loaded with storylines it’s a tribute to his skill as a first time director that the plots don’t merge into a mangled mess. In fact, if he’d selected two or three scenarios out of the eight or nine, his film would have been stronger. His onslaught of ideas weakens "Love," actually.
Not that the acting by a repertory company of Britain’s best (and an occasional topnotch American) isn’t wonderful. Curtis of "Four Weddings and a Funeral" fame has assembled a cast headed by Hugh Grant and including Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Laura Linney, Rowan Atkinson, and many more.
While Grant’s depiction of a sexually repressed Tony Blair-ish Prime Minister (who not-so secretly disco-dances in 10 Downing Street) is cute, the funniest bit is about two sweetly innocent body doubles (Martin Freeman and Joanna Page) falling discreetly in love as they pose nude in numerous erotic postures on a movie set.
Another piece of amusement has Nighy as washed-up rock star Billy Mack being prodded into a comeback with a Christmas version of the Troggs’ "Love Is All Around You." Mack’s self-deprecating honesty in media interviews about the "quality" of his song endears him to the public, resulting in a hit after all.
More serious stuff is offered through separate plotlines featuring Emma Thompson and Laura Linney. Sarah (Linney) works for Harry (Rickman), but has the hots for a Latin colleague (Rodrigo Santoro). After the company Christmas party, Sarah finds herself in the sack with the long-awaited lover, only to be interrupted by the suicidal calls from her psychiatric patient/brother. Karen (Thompson), who happens to be the Prime Minister’s sister, pines for attention from husband Harry.
After she spots him buying an expensive gold necklace, she is tragically disappointed to unwrap her Christmas present and discover Joni Mitchell CD in a box identical to that of the necklace. We then see the ornament adorning the neck of Harry’s sexually aggressive secretary Mia (Heike Makatsh).
This is just a smidgen of multiple subplots, which could have provided a year’s worth of material for a sit-com or soap. The stories are book-ended with opening and closing shots of holiday hugging and kissing at the Heathrow Airport arrivals gate. You see, love and Christmas constitute the thematic cohesion for the film. How nice.
But, putting cynicism aside. "Love Actually" is nice…a nice serio-comic confection for Christmas.
If you’re looking for something a bit more mature than "Elf" for holiday viewing, you might take a chance at "Love."