Love Actually (2003)

reviewed by
David N. Butterworth

A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2004 David N. Butterworth
** (out of ****)

Don't try this at home. "Love Actually" is a textbook case of why an immensely successful screenwriter (Richard Curtis, the man who penned "Bridget Jones's Diary," "Notting Hill," and "Four Weddings and a Funeral") should stick to writing and not attempt to bolster his credentials by adding writer/director to his resume. Curtis is no director (the film is poorly directed, actually) and as a director he's not much of an editor (or knows how to employ the services of one). Worse still, Curtis the director detracts from Curtis the writer, the result being a trumped up, watered down attempt at romantic comedy that only works periodically. In "Love Actually," Curtis attempts to juggle not one, not two, but almost a dozen relationships, keeping each one momentarily alive like a plate spinner at a circus. That's exactly the feeling you get watching his latest romantic comedy--just when one plate gets up to speed, or begins to wobble, Curtis switches to another plate. Populated by a huge cast of British thespians among them Hugh Grant (of course), Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, and Alan Rickman and made up of vignettes that focus on the many facets of love, "Love Actually" has the unfortunate feel of a work culled from previously rejected or unused ideas from other Richard Curtis scripts and to that end it's frustrating since there was probably a good reason why Curtis rejected or didn't use them in the first place. And the soundtrack! Ye Gods. Why allow your characters to emote when you can express their emotions through a treacle-y yuletide pop song. But ultimately the very structure of the film, with its sheer number of romantic entanglements, becomes too much to handle. As a writer of some note Curtis should know that less is often more.

David N. Butterworth

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