Love Actually (2003)

“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”

Each December there is a long list of classic holiday films that, along with a tree and friends and family, we welcome into our home during the holiday season.  Many are cult favorites, goofy comedies or nostalgic cartoons, but few ring as true, resonate as strong and deliver such a potent message of life, love and the human race as Love Actually.  

Love Actually is the New Years Eve before New Years Eve as it follows the same all-star-cast whose-holiday-storylines-intertwine format but it’s vastly better than the 2011 attempt.  The cast is a dream assemblage of some of the most loved, talented and well known faces in the business (Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley, the late Alan Rickman and a then mostly unknown Andrew Lincoln as well as a cameo from Rowan Atkinson better known as Mr. Bean) and they all work perfectly together to bring to life Richard Curtis’ script.  It is full of unique, crazy and dynamic characters who could each have a full film in their own right.  Curtis’ clever screenplay begins five weeks before Christmas and follows nine different storylines and how relationships of all types – between both young and old – play out during the lead up to the biggest day of the year.  Some end with a happily ever after and a promise to spend the rest of life together, some are left without a final conclusion and, just as in real life, not all end up working out at all.  It’s a heartwarming film that makes you want to get up off the couch and go fall in love which, as Love Actually shows, might bring certain heartache, but more often then not, great joy.

It is no doubt cheesy in many ways, and sometimes overly sappy, but it somehow manages to not be a cliche and meanwhile soar high above most rom-coms.  It’s not award winning filmmaking and isn’t exactly favored by critics but that, along with its appealing romantic cheesiness, might possibly be the basis of its charming appeal.  It’s tear jerking, laugh making and quite possibly the saddest happy movie you will ever see.  It’s about beginnings and endings, heartbreak and true love and everything in-between.  It’s sweet and uplifting and most of all emphasizes the true spirit of Christmas.  And of course we must not forget that terribly catchy (and admittedly not bad) song “Christmas is All Around”, that Bill Nighy’s washed up rockstar character sings.

Released a mere two years after the 9/11 attacks, Love Actually was as important of a message then as it is 13 years later today.  At the heart of Love Actually is young Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) who believes that he has found true love despite his mother’s recent death.  He should be mourning but he can’t help loving and among the many beautiful messages of life and love that can be pulled from the film, this might be Love Actually’s most important: That love can and will find us even in the darkest of times.  Why do we get up every morning?  What makes us human? Love.  For love.  It’s what runs the world, makes the universe work.  In a world of much confusion and very few answers, love is something to hold on to.  However good or bad it is, however it may end, it will always be there.

Love Actually can easily be forgiven for whatever trite flaws it may have because, embrace its excessive saccharine sentimentalism or not, no one can deny that the message of love and hope and the Christmas spirit that it proclaims is one to be reminded of everyday and just a little bit extra on Christmas.  Today, in a world where it seems hate is around every corner, Love Actually preaches a crucial message that we just have to look hard enough to see that love is actually all around; in every crevice of our being, in all our friends and family.  However hard it may be to see at times, love is hiding in every dark moment and dismal place waiting for the right moment to appear and deliver a gleaming ray of hope.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/10


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