Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Curtis|
|Produced by||Duncan Kenworthy
|Written by||Richard Curtis|
|Music by||Craig Armstrong|
|Edited by||Nick Moore|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Budget||$45 million (USD)
|Box office||$246.9 million|
Love Actually is a 2003 Christmas-themed romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis. It features an ensemble cast, many of whom had worked with Curtis in previous film and television projects. The screenplay delves into different aspects of love as shown through ten separate stories involving a wide variety of individuals, many of whom are shown to be interlinked as their tales progress. Most of the film was filmed on location in London. The story begins five weeks before Christmas and is played out in a weekly countdown until the holiday, followed by an epilogue that takes place one month later.
The United States release was on 14 November 2003 and a week later in the United Kingdom, where it debuted to positive reviews, but received mixed-to-positive reviews in the US. The film was a box-office success, grossing almost $247 million worldwide on a budget of $45 million.
The film begins with a voiceover from David (Hugh Grant) commenting that whenever he gets gloomy about the state of the world he thinks about the arrivals terminal at Heathrow Airport, and the pure uncomplicated love felt as friends and families welcome their arriving loved ones. David's voiceover also relates that all the messages left by the people who died on the 9/11 planes were messages of love and not hate. The film then tells the 'love stories' of many people:
Billy Mack and JoeEdit
With the help of his longtime manager Joe (Gregor Fisher), rock and roll legend Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) records a Christmas variation of The Troggs' classic hit "Love Is All Around". Although he thinks the record is terrible, Mack promotes the release in the hope it will become the Christmas number one single. The song does reach number one; after briefly celebrating his victory at a party hosted by Sir Elton John, Billy discerns that Joe is in need of affection and suggests that he and Joe celebrate Christmas by getting drunk and watching porn.
Juliet, Peter and MarkEdit
Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) get married in a lovely ceremony orchestrated and videotaped by Mark (Andrew Lincoln), the best man. Both Juliet and Peter believe that Mark dislikes her; he is in fact in love with her, and behaves coldly to her to avoid revealing how he really feels. One day, Juliet comes to see Mark and says she wants them to be friends. He then shows her the wedding video, which is full of adoring closeups of her. After an uncomfortable silence, Mark blurts out that he snubs her out of "self-preservation". On Christmas Eve, the doorbell rings at Juliet and Peter's house. She runs down and opens the door, only to find Mark, carrying a boom box playing Christmas songs and large cue cards on which he has written that he loves her, but is willing to step aside so she can be happy. As he walks away, Juliet runs after him to give him a quick, innocent kiss and runs back inside.
Jamie and AuréliaEdit
Writer Jamie (Colin Firth) is pushed to Juliet and Peter's wedding by his girlfriend (Sienna Guillory) as she feigns illness. He returns between the ceremony and the reception to check on her, and discovers that she is having an affair with his brother. Crushed, Jamie withdraws to his French cottage where he meets Portuguese housekeeper Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz), who does not speak English. Despite their inability to communicate, they become attracted to each other. When Jamie returns to England, he realises he is in love with Aurélia and begins learning Portuguese. He returns to France to find her and ends up walking through town, gathering people as they walk to her job at a restaurant. In his broken Portuguese he declares his love for her and proposes. She says yes in broken English as the crowd erupts in applause.
Harry, Karen, and MiaEdit
Harry (Alan Rickman) is the managing director of a design agency; Mia (Heike Makatsch) is his new secretary. Harry is comfortably married to his wife, Karen (Emma Thompson), who stays home to raise their children. Harry becomes increasingly aroused by Mia's overtly sexual behavior at the office and does nothing to dissuade her. At the company Christmas party held at Mark's gallery, he not only inquires if Mark is her boyfriend, but dances closely with her. While at the shops, he calls Mia to find out what she wants for Christmas and ends up almost caught by his wife purchasing an expensive necklace from the jewellery department thanks to the salesman Rufus (Rowan Atkinson). Later on, Karen discovers the necklace in Harry's coat pocket and happily assumes it is a gift for her. When he hands her a similarly shaped box to open on Christmas Eve, she is heartbroken to find it is a Joni Mitchell CD, meaning that the necklace was for someone else. She confronts Harry asks him what he would do if he was her. Harry begs her forgiveness. She responds that he has made a mockery of their marriage and of her.
David and NatalieEdit
Karen's brother, David (Hugh Grant), is the recently elected Prime Minister. Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) is a new junior member of the household staff at 10 Downing Street. During a meeting with the U.S. President (Billy Bob Thornton), they run into Natalie and the president makes some inappropriate comments to David about Natalie's body. Later, David walks in on Natalie serving tea and biscuits to the president, and it appears that something untoward is happening. Natalie seems ashamed, but the President has a sly grin on his face. At the following joint press conference, David is uncharacteristically assertive while taking a stand against the President's intimidating policies. Finding that his relationship with Natalie has become strained and a distraction, David has her moved to another job. However, he is spurred to action on Christmas Eve when he finds a Christmas card from Natalie declaring that she is his and no one else's. After a door to door search of her street, he comes across Mia, who informs him that Natalie lives next door. The entire family is on their way out the door to a multi-school Christmas play and he offers to drive them so he can talk to her. After Natalie sneaks him in to the school, he runs into his heartbroken sister who believes he is there for his niece and nephew. As the two try to keep from being seen and watch the show from backstage, they finally kiss. All their hiding was for nothing because as the curtain rises, they are seen kissing by everyone.
Daniel, Sam, Joanna and CarolEdit
Daniel (Liam Neeson), Karen's friend, mourns the recent death of his wife Joanna, as he tries to raise his stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) alone. Sam has fallen for an American classmate, also named Joanna (Olivia Olson), and, after discussion with his stepfather, decides to learn the drums so that he can accompany her in the big finale for their school's Christmas pageant (the same one that Natalie's nephew and Karen and Harry's children are in). After Sam feels that he missed his chance to make an impression on her, Daniel convinces Sam that he must go catch Joanna, who is returning to the US, at the airport that night and show her how he feels, lest he regret it. Sam runs away from the airport security and says hi to Joanna, who then kisses him on the cheek. Meanwhile, Daniel meets Carol (Claudia Schiffer), the mother of one of Sam's schoolmates.
Sarah, Karl and MichaelEdit
Sarah (Laura Linney) first appears at Juliet and Peter's wedding, sitting next to her friend Jamie. She is an American who works at Harry's graphic design company and has been in love for years with the company's creative director, Karl (Rodrigo Santoro). They finally connect at the Christmas party and he drives her home. They kiss, but before more can occur, they are interrupted by her mentally ill brother, Michael, phoning from a mental care facility. Sarah and Karl's evening tryst is aborted and Karl leaves. On Christmas Eve both are working late and, when Karl leaves, he only wishes her a merry Christmas. Michael phones Sarah and she goes to stay with him, sharing her Christmas scarf.
Colin, Tony and the American girlsEdit
After unsuccessfully attempting to woo various English women, including Mia and Nancy (Julia Davis), the caterer at Juliet and Peter's wedding, Colin Frissell (Kris Marshall) informs his friend Tony (Abdul Salis) he plans to go to America, where he is convinced that his Britishness will be an asset. Landing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Colin meets Stacey (Ivana Miličević), Jeannie (January Jones), and Carol-Anne (Elisha Cuthbert), three stunningly attractive women who fall for his Basildon accent and invite him to stay at their home, where they are joined by roommate Harriet (Shannon Elizabeth).
John and JudyEdit
John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page) are professional body doubles for films. They meet for the sex scenes in a film for which Tony is a production assistant. John tells Judy that "It is nice to have someone [he] can just chat to." While the two are perfectly comfortable being naked and simulating sex on-set, they are shy and tentative off-set. Carefully pursuing a relationship, they attend the Christmas pageant (involving David and Natalie, Harry and Karen's children, Daniel and Sam, et al.) at the local school with John's brother.
Rufus, played by Rowan Atkinson, is the jewellery salesman, whose obsessive attention to gift-wrapping nearly results in Harry being caught buying a necklace for Mia by Karen. Also, it is his distraction of staff at the airport which allows Sam to sneak through to see Joanna. In the director and cast commentary, it is revealed that Rufus was originally supposed to be a Christmas angel; however, this was dropped from the final script.
One month later, all of the characters are seen in Heathrow airport. Billy tells Joe that his Christmas single has spurred a comeback. Juliet, Peter, and Mark meet Jamie and his bride, Aurélia. Karen and the kids greet Harry, but Karen's reaction suggests that they are struggling to move past his indiscretion. Sam greets Joanna, who has returned with her mother from America, and Daniel is joined by his new girlfriend Carol and her son. Newlyweds John and Judy, heading off to their honeymoon, run into Tony who is awaiting Colin as he returns from America. Colin returns with Harriet and her sister Carla (Denise Richards) who greets Tony with a hug and a kiss. Natalie welcomes David back from his flight in view of the press, indicating that their relationship is now public. These scenes dissolve into footage of actual arrivals at Heathrow, as the screen is divided into an increasing number of smaller segments which form the shape of a heart.
Connections between storiesEdit
All the stories are linked in some way, with the exception of Billy Mack and his manager, who are not acquainted with any of the other characters, but Billy appears frequently on characters' radios and TVs, his music video twice providing an important plot device for Sam's pursuit of Joanna; the pair also cross paths with the other characters in the closing Heathrow scene. John and Judy work with Tony who is best friends with Colin who works for a catering company that services the office where Sarah, Karl, Mia, and Harry work. Mia is friends with Mark who runs the art gallery where the Christmas office party takes place. Mia also lives next door to Natalie. Mark is in love with Juliet and friends with Peter. The couple are friends with Jamie and Sarah. Harry is married to Karen who is friends with Daniel, and Karen's brother is David who works with Natalie. Harry and Karen's children (and thus David's niece and nephew), Natalie's siblings (and thus Mia's neighbours), and Carol's son are all schoolmates of Sam and Joanna. An additional plot that was dropped in editing concerned the children's headmistress (Anne Reid) and her dying lesbian partner (Frances de la Tour).
- Alan Rickman as Harry
- Emma Thompson as Karen
- Hugh Grant as David
- Keira Knightley as Juliet
- Colin Firth as Jamie
- Sienna Guillory as Jamie's Girlfriend
- Lúcia Moniz as Aurélia
- Liam Neeson as Daniel
- Thomas Sangster as Sam
- Bill Nighy as Billy Mack
- Gregor Fisher as Joe
- Martine McCutcheon as Natalie
- Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter
- Andrew Lincoln as Mark
- Laura Linney as Sarah
- Rodrigo Santoro as Karl
- Michael Fitzgerald as Michael
- Kris Marshall as Colin
- Abdul Salis as Tony
- Heike Makatsch as Mia
- Martin Freeman as John
- Joanna Page as Judy (credited as Just Judy)
- Olivia Olson as Joanna
- Billy Bob Thornton as President of the United States
- Rowan Atkinson as Rufus
- Claudia Schiffer as Carol
- Nina Sosanya as Annie
- Ivana Miličević as Stacey
- January Jones as Jeannie
- Elisha Cuthbert as Carol-Anne
- Shannon Elizabeth as Harriet
- Denise Richards as Carla
- Lulu Popplewell as Daisy
- Marcus Brigstocke as Mikey
- Julia Davis as Nancy the Caterer
- Ruby Turner as Jean (Joanna's mother)
- Adam Godley as Mr. Trench
Initially, Curtis started writing the film as two distinct movies with expanded versions of what would be two of the characters' storylines in the finished film but he grew frustrated with the process. Partly inspired by the films of Robert Altman as well as films such as Pulp Fiction, and partly inspired by the fact that Curtis became "more interested in writing a film about love and what love sort of means" he had the idea of creating an ensemble film. The film initially did not have any sort of Christmas theme, although Curtis's penchant for such movies eventually caused him to write it as one.
Most of the film was made on location in London, at sites including Trafalgar Square, the central court of Somerset House in the Strand, Grosvenor Chapel on South Audley Street near Hyde Park, St. Paul's Clapham on Rectory Grove, Clapham in the London Borough of Lambeth, the Millennium Bridge, Selfridges department store on Oxford Street, Lambeth Bridge, the Tate Modern in the former Bankside Power Station, Canary Wharf, Marble Arch, the St. Lukes Mews off All Saint's Road in Notting Hill, Chelsea Bridge, the OXO Tower, London City Hall, Poplar Road in Herne Hill in the London Borough of Lambeth, Elliott School in Pullman Gardens, Putney in the London Borough of Wandsworth, and London Heathrow Airport. Additional scenes were filmed at the Marseille Airport and Le Bar de la Marine. Scenes set in 10 Downing Street were filmed at the Shepperton Studios.
Ant and Dec played themselves in the film with Bill Nighy's character referring to Dec as "Ant or Dec". This refers to the common mistaking of one for the other, owing to their constant joint professional presence as a comedy and presenting duo. The veteran actress Jeanne Moreau is seen briefly, entering a taxi at the Marseille Airport. The soul singer Ruby Turner appears as Joanna Anderson's mother, one of the backing singers at the school Christmas pageant.
Curtis's original concept for the film included 14 different scenarios, but four of them were cut (two after having been filmed). The scene in which Colin attempts to chat up the female caterer at the wedding appeared in drafts of the screenplay for Four Weddings and a Funeral, but was cut from the final version. The music video for Billy Mack's song, "Love Is All Around", is a tribute to Robert Palmer's video, "Addicted To Love".
Curtis has spoken negatively about the editing process for the film, which he labeled in 2014 as a "catastrophe" and "The only nightmare scenario that I’ve been caught in". The film was rushed in order to be ready for the 2003 Christmas season which he likened to "three dimensional chess" 
After the resignation of the prime minister, Tony Blair, pundits and speculators referred to a potential anti-American shift in Gordon Brown's cabinet as a "Love Actually moment", referring to the scene in which Hugh Grant's character stands up to the American president. In 2009, during President Barack Obama's first visit to the UK, Chris Matthews referred to the president in Love Actually as an example of George W. Bush and other former presidents' bullying of European allies. In commenting on Matthews' view, Mediaite's Jon Bershad described the U.S. president character as a "sleazy Bill Clinton/George W. Bush hybrid". In the scene in question, the swaggering president bullies the prime minister and then sexually harasses a member of the his household staff. In September 2013, David Cameron made a speech in reply to Russia's comment that Britain was a small insignificant country which drew comparisons with Hugh Grant's speech during the film.
|Soundtrack album by Various Artists|
|Released||17 November 2003|
The film's original music was composed, orchestrated and conducted by Craig Armstrong. The soundtrack album reached the top 40 on the US Billboard 200 in 2004 and ranked second on the Top Soundtracks chart. It achieved gold record status in Australia and Mexico.
- Track listing
- "The Trouble with Love Is" by Kelly Clarkson
- "Here with Me" by Dido
- "Sweetest Goodbye/Sunday Morning" by Maroon 5
- "Turn Me On" by Norah Jones
- "Take Me As I Am" by Wyclef Jean and Sharissa
- "Songbird" by Eva Cassidy
- "Wherever You Will Go" by The Calling
- "Jump (for My Love)" by The Pointer Sisters in US / Girls Aloud in UK
- "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell
- "All You Need Is Love" by Lynden David Hall
- "God Only Knows" by The Beach Boys
- "I'll See It Through" by Texas
- "Too Lost in You" by Sugababes
- "White Christmas" by Otis Redding
The film's director's cut also includes "Joanna" by Scott Walker. The UK release of the soundtrack has additional tracks by Craig Armstrong: "Prime Minister's Love Theme", "Glasgow Love Theme" and "Portuguese Love Theme". It also has "Sometimes" performed by Gabrielle. The US disc replaced the Girls Aloud version of "Jump (for My Love)" with the Pointer Sisters' original recording. Additional songs heard in the film include Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You", as performed by the actress Olivia Olson, "All Alone on Christmas" by Darlene Love and "Smooth" by Santana. Although they were not included on the soundtrack album, the Paul Anka song "Puppy Love" performed by S Club Juniors, and "Bye Bye Baby" by the Bay City Rollers, are also heard in the film.
The UK and US versions of the film contain two instances of alternative music. In the UK cut, the montage leading up to and continuing through the first part of the office party is set to the song "Too Lost in You", by the UK group Sugababes. In the US version of the film, this song is replaced with "The Trouble With Love Is", performed by the American singer Kelly Clarkson. In the UK version's end credit roll, the second song is a cover of "Jump (for My Love)", performed by Girls Aloud. In the US version, this song is replaced with "Too Lost in You", by Sugababes.
The Working Title Films production, budgeted at $45,000,000, was released by Universal Pictures. It grossed $62,671,632 in the United Kingdom, $13,956,093 in Australia and $59,472,278 in the US and Canada. It took a worldwide total of $247,472,278.
While Love Actually received generally positive reviews in Britain, United States reviews were generally mixed. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 63% of critics gave the film a positive rating, based on 191 reviews, with an average score of 6.4/10. Its consensus states "'A sugary tale overstuffed with too many stories. Still, the cast charms." On Metacritic, the film holds a 55/100 rating, based on 41 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Todd McCarthy of Variety called it "a roundly entertaining romantic comedy," a "doggedly cheery confection," and "a package that feels as luxuriously appointed and expertly tooled as a Rolls-Royce" and predicted "its cheeky wit, impossibly attractive cast, and sure-handed professionalism... along with its all-encompassing romanticism should make this a highly popular early holiday attraction for adults on both sides of the pond". Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice called it "love British style, handicapped slightly by corny circumstance and populated by colourful neurotics". Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 1⁄2 out of 4 stars, describing it as "a belly-flop into the sea of romantic comedy [...] The movie's only flaw is also a virtue: It's jammed with characters, stories, warmth and laughs, until at times Curtis seems to be working from a checklist of obligatory movie love situations and doesn't want to leave anything out [...] It feels a little like a gourmet meal that turns into a hot-dog eating contest." Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today wrote "Curtis' multi-tiered cake of comedy, slathered in eye-candy icing and set mostly in London at Christmas, serves sundry slices of love—sad, sweet and silly—in all of their messy, often surprising, glory."
Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly rated it B and called it "a toasty, star-packed ensemble comedy... [That's] going to make a lot of holiday romantics feel very, very good; watching it; I felt cosy and charmed myself." Nev Pierce of the BBC awarded it four of a possible five stars and called it a "vibrant romantic comedy... Warm, bittersweet and hilarious, this is lovely, actually. Prepare to be smitten." Carla Meyer of the San Francisco Chronicle opined "[it] abandons any pretext of sophistication for gloppy sentimentality, sugary pop songs and bawdy humour – an approach that works about half the time [...] Most of the story lines maintain interest because of the fine cast and general goodwill of the picture."
In his review in The New York Times, A.O. Scott called it "a romantic comedy swollen to the length of an Oscar-trawling epic – nearly two and a quarter hours of cheekiness, diffidence and high-tone smirking" and added, "it is more like a record label's greatest-hits compilation or a very special sitcom clip-reel show than an actual movie [...] The film's governing idea of love is both shallow and dishonest, and its sweet, chipper demeanour masks a sour cynicism about human emotions that is all the more sleazy for remaining unacknowledged. It has the calloused, leering soul of an early-60s rat-pack comedy, but without the suave, seductive bravado." In Rolling Stone, Peter Travers rated it two stars out of a possible four, saying "there are laughs laced with feeling here, but the deft screenwriter Richard Curtis dilutes the impact by tossing in more and more stories. As a director... Curtis can't seem to rein in his writer... He ladles sugar over the eager-to-please Love Actually to make it go down easy, forgetting that sometimes it just makes you gag."
Although critics' reviews for Love Actually were mixed, the film is more popular among audiences and has even been discussed in recent years as an arguable modern-day Christmas classic. Christopher Orr of The Atlantic, on the other hand, remains negative toward the work and even described it as the least romantic movie of all time, considering its ultimate message to be, "It’s probably best if you give up on love altogether and get on with the rest of your life."
Awards and nominationsEdit
- Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film (nominee)
- BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Bill Nighy, winner)
- BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Emma Thompson, nominee)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy (nominee)
- Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay (nominee)
- Empire Award for Best British Film (winner)
- Empire Award for Best British Actress (Emma Thompson, winner)
- Empire Award for Best Newcomer (Martine McCutcheon, winner)
- Empire Award for Best Newcomer (Andrew Lincoln, nominee)
- Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress (Emma Thompson, winner)
- Evening Standard Peter Sellers Award for Comedy (Bill Nighy, winner)
- European Film Award for Best Actor (Hugh Grant, nominee)
- European Film Award for Best Director (Richard Curtis, nominee)
- London Film Critics Circle Award for Best British Supporting Actor (Bill Nighy, winner)
- London Film Critics Circle Award for Best British Supporting Actress (Emma Thompson, winner)
- Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor (Bill Nighy, winner)
- Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor, Musical or Comedy (Bill Nighy and Thomas Sangster, nominees)
- Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress, Musical or Comedy (Emma Thompson, nominee)
The screenplay was released as the novel Love Actually by Richard Curtis.
Comic Relief short-filmEdit
Shooting for a 10-minute short film began in February 2017. The film was broadcast on BBC One as part of Red Nose Day on 24 March 2017. Among the returning cast are Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Marcus Brigstocke and Rowan Atkinson. Actors who did not return included Emma Thompson, Martin Freeman, Laura Linney, Rodrigo Santoro and the late Alan Rickman.
- It All Began When I Met You, a 2013 Japanese film inspired by Love Actually
- Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love, a Hindi movie detectably based on Love Actually
- Letters to Santa, a Polish film inspired by Love Actually
- Alles is Liefde (English: Love is All), a 2007 Dutch romantic comedy film inspired by Love Actually
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