Love Actually

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

The following review is to be read with an English accent and all “o’s” are to be inferred as “ou’s” and so forth. Right-O…

“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?

“Love Actually” is shown in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio an simply looks splendid. The movie has a look a feel for most of the sub plots (for example Colin Firth’s has more of a natural look a feel to it with some mixed sepia tones, etc.) but the detail is solid overall. The wider scope of the movie is good here, as most romantic comedies are shown in a flat aspect ratio. At some points, there seems to not even be enough room for everything that’s happening on screen. Black levels are solid and there was no artifacting or edge enhancement that I noticed. This looked like a glossy Hollywood production (visually speaking) from beginning to end and what better way to present it than on this great-looking disc. This comes to us from Universal, who has had some problems when it comes to transfers in the past. Top notch.

Audio: How does it sound?

As far as audio is concerned, “Love Actually” sports a pretty robust Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Kelly Clarkson (of “American Idol” fame) has a song attached and the soundtrack in general is fairly good. I never imagined that The Pointer Sisters’ “Jump” would sound this good in 5.1, but hey – it does! Dialogue, albeit mostly English, sounds great as well with little distortion. The surrounds aren’t used that much or too effectively, but they do kick in a few times. I was a bit surprised at the lack of a DTS soundtrack, which Universal usually provides, but that aside it still sounded pretty good.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The single disc contains not too many supplements, but will keep fans interested to say the least. First off is an audio commentary by Director Richard Curtis, Hugh Grant, Bill Nighly and Thomas Sankster. The track is pretty lively, though it does have some down points. We learn a lot about the production and with the ensemble cast, there’s plenty to be said about all of the co-stars. A track that will be enjoyed by fans, this is a welcome addition. Next up is “The Music of Love Actually” complete with an introduction by Curtis. This also leads us into a music video by Kelly Clarkson, who, I have to say, does have a great voice. Several deleted scenes are shown with optional commentary by Curtis and some DVD-ROM material is included as well. “Love Actually” was a movie I was sorry I didn’t see in theaters and I enjoyed very much. The audio and video are well above average and the supplements are just enough to whet the appetite for more. Highly recommended.

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