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BrianWatchesMovies

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143 out of 186 people found the following review useful:
A fabric woven of happy and sad threads, 19 December 2003
8/10

What I appreciated most about Love Actually was that for the most part, it realistically looks at relationships happy and sad, successful and unsuccessful, with a future and without. It addresses different forms and levels of love, sometimes straightforward and carefree, sometimes complex and contradictory. There are schmaltzy happy moments and touching sad ones, moments of great strength and moments of foolish weakness. The movie is made up of many threads, and of course some threads are stronger than others.

The most interesting parts of Love Actually are the times when it addresses the tragic situations where love is self-sacrificing, contradictory, or fragile. One character's unrequited love is revealed as a noble sacrifice made for another's happiness (the method of finally achieving closure and moving on, however, could only work in the movies). Another character is shown to be caught between conflicting duties that will, we are led to believe, prevent her from ever being truly happy. And the strength that a third shows when love is shown to be fragile and her world collapses around her is tragically inspiring.

These noble, tragic threads are interwoven with lighthearted comedic ones to produce a fabric that holds together well. While some characters have to fight for their love, others have simple, happy, straightforward relationships, with love (or whatever) falling in their laps like a parcel from Santa Claus. And the purely comic moments, like Rowan Atkinson's appearances and Hugh Grant's Christmas-caroling bodyguard, are delightful in and of themselves.

There are of course plenty of nits to pick. Hugh Grant doesn't make a very believable Prime Minister, and even his very pointed speech to his American counterpart -- especially relevant in light of Bush's recent state visit to England -- don't redeem the odd casting. Others in this forum have commented on the number of fat jokes in the film, and while I agree, I feel I should point out that the entire point of the first such joke is that the character who has fallen for the "fat" girl clearly doesn't think of her as fat, and doesn't understand at first who the other is talking about. It's true that calling her fat is ridiculous; she's only large in comparison to Keira Knightley, who must be carrying some vital organs around in her handbag because there's certainly not enough room in her torso! But that one time would have been enough; the "fat" theme gets tiresome later on in the movie. I also agree with those who have said that much of the nudity is completely unnecessary to the plot, and that at least some of the comedic threads in the movie are formulaic and unoriginal.

In the end, I feel that Love Actually is for the most part a thoughtful and entertaining look at relationships, which does not shy away from taking the bad with the good.