Richard Curtis / UK / 2003
Love, that most heinous of all words, strikes back in this sugar rush of a movie. Emotional diabetics beware: this film could be your last. Predisposed as one is towards such base misinterpretations of the vagaries of the human heart (systolic, diastolic and apparently besottic rather than diabolic) Love Actually provoked laughter before asphyxiating me with the final deluge of crossed lovers. Such was the disgust I felt with myself for actually succumbing to this kind of smaltz that I set to reassessing several of my core values concerning starting the festive season in mid to late November and the ability of Christmas to temporarily rectify all manner of wrongs. You shudder to life on Boxing Day with the need for aspirin and alka seltzer for a reason not dissimilar to the soldiers in the Great War: life may be postponed not forgotten. Intercepting a pass is preferable to intercepting automatic fire. And to think that Curtis scripted Blackadder too!
Regardless, back in La-La-London (complete with white Notting Hill) love blossoms in the rat run towards Christmas for a multitude of interconnecting characters all speaking, living and loving pure Curtis. Since Britain’s film industry tends to avoid being shown in British multiplexes, the producers of Love Actually decided to ram their product full of him from that television show and her from that musical. Strange as it may sound linking a single Prime Minister to two shy butt-doubles, remember that in real life current Prime Minister Tony Blair’s father-in-law Tony Booth starred in the Confessions films, notable for reminding us that despite the power cuts Richard Asquiths pneumatic buttocks were unstoppable in the 1970’s. Heartstrings are mercilessly twinkled and tweaked until we are forced to flee to Heathrow. At this point, SODDING FUCKING ARSE, real-life people expressing ‘love’ as they ooze around arrivals; tears of joy that little Timmy isn’t basted in aviation fuel around a major international monument perhaps.
Writing a mean script (regardless of content) Richard Curtis lampoons the theme tune of his greatest hit to date ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ through Bill Nighy’s faded rock star out for the Christmas Number One at any price, including the painful truth about himself and his single. Where in the previous films Hugh Grant (and Jeff Goldblum) have played Curtis script doubles, the position here is split between Hugh Grant’s Blair like successor to Tony Blair and Nighy. Curtis is at the top of his profession and with Love Actually has made the fabled jump from writer to director. The outcome is a well-polished version of Nighy’s cynical rehash of ‘Love is all around’. A work so wrong but so right: a well scripted populist hybrid that despite its faults deserves to be the Christmas number one. Shame its still November really. Where else but a Christmas obsessed romantic comedy would the dishy Prime Minister reject the special relationship and still get the girl. Vomit sprinkled stardust.