November 4, 2003

All You Need Is Love

loveactually.jpgThe siren call of the romantic comedy -- an odious melody that draws Cinecultist into its rocky shoals every freakin' time -- sang our name again on Saturday compelling CC to catch an advance screening of Richard Curtis's directorial debut Love Actually. The English screenwriter (Four Weddings, Notting Hill) who created the "many friends driving quickly to a romantic event in a Mini = comedy" convention and made us fall for the foppish side of Hugh Grant, has added the director slash to his title with this new ensemble piece about love at Christmas time in Britain. CC really did want to hate it, thus breaking our long standing unadulterated fascination with the genre. But instead, Love Actually made CC want to run from the theater, shouting "love is in the air!" and snog the first unsuspecting male speciman we saw on the street. Seeing as the screening let out next door to Nevada Smith's (a raucous Irish sports pub on Third Avenue), it's probably best that we restrained ourselves.

First off, props must be given for amassing such a phenominal cast -- practically every good English actor who's not in the Harry Potter series or working on LOTR, plus a few top notch Americans as well are in this thing. CC loves anything with our man Colin Firth in it, as well as Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman (cast of Sense and Sensibility anyone?) and not to mention Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Keira (Mrs. Knightley and Laura Linney who aren't much to sneeze at either. We fully expected this much talent to be wasted by a fractured plot, but the episodic structure works well and there wasn't one thread we wished stayed further on the periphery, all the little plots are interesting.

Curtis's comedy centers around taking the awkward moments that occur when we make ourselves vulnerable and heightening them to ridiculousness. This structure also works well for the multiple thread story lines, as the movie moves gracefully from one gag to another. There are some moments that try a bit too hard to warm those cockles in our heart, especially the footage shot in Heathrow's welcome room. Also Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister who stands up for Britain against the bully US Prez (Billy Bob Thorton! CC would so go to Canada if Billly Bob were the leader of the Free World), is a bit too shades of the West Wing for the second fiddle Brits. But in the end, Love Actually's sweetness is too winning to resist. And no one jumps into a Mini and races off to declare their love, so maybe we say the rom com has moved on from this conventional cheese? Maybe?

Posted by karen at November 4, 2003 7:57 AM