Friday, November 14, 2003

loved it actually

shameless post really: here's my review of the movie Love Actually. hey it's my bloody blog....

LOVE Is A Many Splendored Thing. All You Need Is Love. Love Is All Around.

Aren't love songs just beautiful? Magical even? Or they could be just be full of crap really - depending on one's mood.

And that's what the movie, Love Actually, is like - a hodgepodge of stories about love: beautiful shiny love, puppy love, lust, parental love, unrequited love, true love and not-so-true love.

So this film can either be a captivating, fun ride or a bumpy one in which you need to stagger out of and be sick.

The new bachelor Prime Minister, played disarmingly by none other than the king of maladroit Brits, Hugh Grant, falls for a member of his staff (EastEnders' Martine McCutcheon).

His sister Karen (Emma Thompson) is a wound-down wife and mother whose husband Harry (Alan Rickman) is starting to stray.

Her recently widowed friend Daniel (Liam Neeson) tries to connect with a stepson he hardly knows.

The boy, in turn, hopes to win the heart of the most popular girl at school.

A lovelorn American (Laura Linney) finally acts on a long, unspoken office crush but there is a major obstacle in the way.

A writer (Colin Firth) heads to France to nurse his broken heart and finds himself falling for his Portuguese cleaning lady.

A delivery boy/waiter risks everything on a trip to the US, where, he is convinced, all the hot American girls will lap up his British accent. ('I'm Colin, the God of Sex. I'm just on the wrong continent, that's all.')

Ageing rock star Bill Macky (Bill Nighy) makes a last, desperate stab at a Christmas remake of the song, Love Is All Around - titled, imaginatively enough, Christmas Is All Around.

There is one more love story which Singapore audiences will not get to see - a couple of porn star stand-ins who become interested in each other for real. (The movie has been given a PG rating in Singapore, so nothing risque please!)

This is one busy busy movie, with plenty of characters and many stories going back and forth such that, after a while, it feels like you're watching TV and switching channels. And like channel surfing, some stories catch your attention and some don't.

But there are some enticing little nuggets that pull the movie out of mediocrity.

The Prime Minister is cajoled by three little girls into singing Christmas carols outside their house.

Rowan Atkinson (of Mr Bean fame) turns up as a jewellery salesman with a passion for gift wrapping. The Singapore audience, long conditioned to associate him with anything funny, spontaneously bursts into laughter the moment he steps into the movie.

But the real scene-stealer is Nighy, who threatens to take the limelight away from the more established stars with his randy old rocker hijinks and his crappy Christmas song.

The movie is Richard Curtis' directorial debut. He also wrote the screenplay. Incidentally, he was also the hand behind the scripts for Four Weddings and Funeral and Notting Hill - both successful in the box office.

And he seems to have written himself into a corner with the myriad of characters and stories that have to be squeezed into a mere two hours and also make sense. Although he does a decent job for most of the movie, the resolution of some of the relationships leaves the audience wanting more. The story of the straying husband, for example, is left hanging, as if something crucial was edited out due to time constraints.

However, truth be told, it is hard to go wrong with this star-studded cast.

But you might leave the cinema wondering if Hugh Grant (who looks to be Curtis' favourite lead, having starred in both Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill) will ever venture out of the romantic comedy genre. After all, how many more fumbling idiots are there left to play?

Unless Curtis keeps churning these 'Made-for-Hugh' roles out, that is.