Movie: Love Actually, Universal Studios
Genre: "romantic comedy"
Rating: R for sex, nudity, and language
Writer/Director: Richard Curtis
Music: Craig Armstrong
Short Review: Loved it!
Full-Length ("Real") Review:
Funny story: In my sophomore year of high school, my drama club director used music from "Love Actually" during curtain call for one of our plays. Three years later, I found the movie on a shelf at KMart, bought it because I loved the music, took it home and watched it. Now it's my favorite movie.
Here's the thing. After a while, all romantic comedies, all romances, start to look the same. Here is the formula: Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and/or girl does something stupid that screws it up and/or there's a misunderstanding that screws it up, whoever screwed up makes things right, happily ever after. Throw in some laughs and you've got it. Which isn't to say that I don't like romantic comedies, but they're pretty interchangeable.
"Love Actually" is technically a romantic comedy. It does have certain elements of the romantic comedy - plenty of blossoming romance, plenty of laughs. But I really feel like it needs to be in a different genre because, no offense, romantic-comedy-lovers, but way beyond any romantic comedy I've ever seen. I can't even call it a romantic comedy on steroids.
"Love Actually" follows the lives of several characters in London. The movie is centered around the Christmas season, possibly the most loving time of year. Here's what I like:
First of all, the fact that, rather than following one predictable boy-meets-girl scenario, the movie follows many different people, all of whom are interconnected in some way. Many of the characters know each other, and they are also united through Billy Nighy's character, Billy Mack (aka "the bad grand-dad of rock-n-roll"), who is trying to make a come-back as a pop sensation by producing a "festering turdhole" of a Christmas album.
(This movie is also why I can't take Rufus Scrimgeor seriously in the Harry Potter movies. I can when reading the books, but seeing Bill Nighy in the movies just makes me think of Billy Mack.)
Also, I love the fact that not all of the relationships being followed are the typical romantic-comedy romance. Yes, there are budding romances, but there is also the newly married couple, the middle-aged couple, the love between friends, the love between parent and child, the love between brother and sister, etc. And, not all of these stories end with the perfect kiss and happily ever after.
The writing is great, but the music is even better. As I said, I spent $19.99 on this DVD just because I knew and loved one piece of music from it. (For those who are curious, it was "The Prime Minister's Love Theme.") Stupid reason to buy a movie, normally, but look how well that turned out? Craig Armstrong's original compositions are beautiful, but the movie also utilizes a lot of other songs, such as "All You Need Is Love," "Here with Me," and "Both Sides Now." "Love actually is full of fun and beautiful music.
(I really must get the soundtrack one of these days.)
Finally, I love this movie because it makes me cry from happiness every time I watch it.
A lot of movies can make me cry, but only from sadness, and usually only the first time I watch it. (If it's not the first time and I'm crying anyway, I was probably sad about something before the movie started.) But "Love Actually" makes me cry, or at least well up, every single time I watch it, which is pathetic of me, but at least happiness is a good reason to cry.
What is also pathetic is that I spend the entire movie saying to myself, "God, I love this movie."
Oh wait. I've already said that.
Okay, well, finally again, I really like the way this movie begins and ends - at the airport, showing people greeting each other after long absences. It sends a beautiful message. As the Prime Minister says:
Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals' gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling that love actually is all around.
I love this. I am a very positive person, and I like to see the good in things, in people, in the world. Possibly that's the real reason I love this movie, but whether it's that or the music or the writing combined with the wonderful acting, "Love Actually" is an original movie that defies the romantic-comedy genre.