2003, Movies

Love Actually (2003, Richard Curtis)

This is a romantic comedy about a whole bunch of people finding love (or not) around Christmas. Apparently it has inspired a whole host of similar films, something that I was completely unaware of given how little I watch romantic comedies or holiday movies. So it’s sort of the inaugural film of this type of movie, which is something.

So I laughed out loud at least four times – perhaps more – and that is a very good thing because otherwise I think I would have hated this move. If it was just a romance without the comedy, it would be insufferable.

The biggest problem is that there are just way too many stories, with way too many characters. There’s no character development in most of the stories because there are too many stories and not enough dialogue go around. (I would be curious to see how many lines some of these actors actually have.) As Jenn put it, they do a lot of telling and not a lot of showing. And it does feel like casting is doing a lot of work here, though many people became famous after the movie.

I think the movie needs to be much longer, or it needs to have 3-4 stories tops, one or the other. Because, right now, it’s just a collection of interconnected vignettes. It’s like the star-studded Christmas romantic comedy version of The Meaning of Life, albeit with way more actors and way, way, way less absurdity. (And a tiny bit more plot.)

And, without character development, it feels a little manipulative. There are all these scenes arranged to wring emotion out of the audience but what do they actually add up to? How many of these stories could you stand an entire movie of?

I understand why some people watch this every Christmas. I suspect, if you like this kind of thing, it’s eminently watchable: there are some laughs and there are a whole lot of great actors, some of whom are doing good work, and there are a lot of memorable scenes. (As evidenced by the number of memes from this movie.) But, as a film, I don’t think it’s very successful. And I think it could be a lot more successful with just, say, half as many storylines.

5/10

PS the number of these relationships which are inappropriate is quite staggering.

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