Love Actually (Blu-ray)

October 14, 2013 10 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Love Actually is one of those movies that when you watch it, it’s sheer charm envelops you. Following the path of about a dozen or so different stories, some are intertwined and some are not. But “Love Actually” is just that. It’s a story about love in all shapes and sizes and the characters don’t tiptoe around the issue. Everyone from an eleven year old boy to a down and out “Keith Richards” type of rock-n-roller experiences some sort of redemption in the glory that is love. Director Richard Curtis, best known for his work in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill has created something of true merit here. The movie is led by an all-star cast of every “A” list British actor out there, well most of them anyway. And, as is the standard, there are a few Americans who show up and it seems to nearly ruin the flow of the movie. Let’s face it: the English have a different sense of humor (humour) than us and it shows in most movies. That being said, Love Actually relies less on the sense of humor and concentrates more on the emotions of the characters; as movies should. The movie will make you laugh, however, and probably make some cry because it contains a random sampling of situations that most of us have either faced or will face in our lives.

Trying to cover all of the plots is a cumbersome task and there are a couple of them that I could have personally done without. Hugh Grant plays the Prime Minister of England (yes, really) complete with the 10 Downing Street address and all. He’s a bachelor who, almost immediately, falls in love with one of his servants and she him. She is then fired by him when he suspects that she’s been cavorting with the President of the United States (an actor best left unmentioned as the sheer surprise of him playing the role is one of the movie’s surprises). It’s harmless, but something that he feels has to be done. His sister (Emma Thompson) is married to Harry (Alan Rickman), an executive whose secretary has a thing for him and we’re led to believe him for her. He’s also the boss of Sarah (Laura Linney – the sole American in the movie unless you count the ten year old girl), who is taking care of her mentally ill brother. She’s also got the hots for Karl (Rodrigo Santoro), who may or may not have feelings for her. There are about seven or eight other stories that are all loosely related and to explain all of them would not only take away from the movie, but probably give a lot away as well. Suffice it to say that while some may be to your liking, others might not.

There are scenes that we could do without and I suppose my only complaint with the movie is that most everything seems to be wrapped up so nicely at the end that it feels a bit forced. Love doesn’t always work out and just because you mention that you want to marry Claudia Schiffer, doesn’t mean that you’ll accidentally bump into her at that very moment (and far less, will she have a thing for you almost immediately). Still, this is the world of movies and anything can happen. I’d have to say that the joy of seeing this movie made my day. I thought that About a Boy was fun and one of Hugh Grant’s better movies, but after seeing this I might have to change the way I look at him. Grant, despite his troubles a few years back, has blossomed into a fine actor and one of the more reliable “Romantic Comedy” actors, much like Cary Grant was in his day. His dry and bumbling manners not only make for an interesting time on screen, but he seems not to take himself too seriously either. The rest of the ensemble cast makes the movie that much more enjoyable as well. So while “Love Actually” might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I for one, found it to be very enjoyable and if you’re looking for a great date movie or just a movie that’ll make you feel better – you could do a lot worse.

Video: How does it look?

This is actually the second incarnation of the movie on Blu-ray with the first coming in 2009 and sporting a relatively good transfer.  Believe it or not, Universal has gone and done a new master for the movie and it does look pretty good.  I have to ask myself though…why? Perhaps they wanted to offer some more value-added things to this new 10th Anniversary edition or maybe they’re just taking better care of their catalog titles?  Nevertheless, the 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer does look the part with nothing really to complain about.  Colors are bright and vivid, and though each “segment” seems to have its own look and feel, flesh tones look natural and even, blacks are rock solid and I found no instances of dirt or debris on the print.  Regardless if you think this movie deserved a new digital transfer or not – it does look good.

Audio: How does it sound?

A chippy romantic comedy won’t exactly light up the room with its robust sound, but I have to admit that this DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack does sound pretty darn good.  I think the last time I watched the film was on DVD and the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix sounded good, but not great.  This is a dialogue-driven comedy to say the least and, as such, the vocals sound very rich and clear.  Surrounds are used with good intent on a handful of scenes and they chime in during a few sequences that really adds to the mix (pardon the pun).  There’s really not a whole lot else to say here. The mix is straight-forward and sounds good. What more can we ask for?

Supplements: What are the extras?

The supplements are identical to that of the 2009 Blu-ray, but if you don’t own that one then this would be the one to get.  Both Blu-ray’s do feature supplements that weren’t available on the standard DVD, so if you’ve yet to upgrade here’s what to expect:

  • Audio Commentary – The same commentary that appeared on the previous Blu-ray and DVD, director Richard Curtis along with Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, and Thomas Sangster deliver a very witty, albeit misguided, commentary track. Fans of the movie will love it, but if you’re after a lot of technical details then you might want to pass.
  • Deleted Scenes – Nearly 40 minutes of deleted scenes are included along with an introduction by Richard Curtis.
  • The Music of Love Actually – Curtis again delivers some comments to introduce us to some scenes from the film that feature some engaging music.  Oddly enough, his comments aren’t upscaled to HD while the scenes from the film are.
  • The Storytellers – A brief look at the intertwining stories and some representation as to what they mean and the like.  Interesting, but a bit on the shorter side.  There could have been more.
  • Music Videos – Again, the same videos that appeared on previous versions: Kelly Clarkson’s video along with the uncut version of Bill Nighy’s “Christmas All Around” video.
  • DVD/UltraViolet Copy

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