Love Actually

Love Actually

Infobox Film
name=Love Actually

director= Richard Curtis
writer=Richard Curtis
producer=Tim Bevan
Liza Chasin
Eric Fellner
Debra Hayward
Duncan Kenworthy
starring= Alan Rickman
Bill Nighy
Colin Firth
Emma Thompson
Hugh Grant
Liam Neeson
Keira Knightley
distributor=Universal Pictures
released=6 November, 2003
runtime=135 min.
country = UK

"Love Actually" is a 2003 British romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis. The screenplay delves into different aspects of love as shown through stories involving a wide variety of individuals, many of whom are linked as their tales progress. The ensemble cast is composed of predominantly English actors.

The film begins five weeks before Christmas and is played out during a week-by-week countdown until the holiday, with an epilogue that takes place one month later.

Cast of characters and storylines

The film begins with a voiceover from David, commenting that, whenever he gets gloomy with 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 known 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" story of many people, culminating in a final scene at the airport enacted to the tune of The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows", that closes their stories. The film ends with a montage of anonymous persons greeting their arriving loved ones that slowly enlarges and fills the screen, eventually with a shape of a heart appearing.

Billy Mack and Joe

With the help of his longtime manager Joe (Gregor Fisher), aging rock and roll legend Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) records a Christmas variation of The Troggs' classic hit "Love Is All Around." Despite his honest admission that it is a "festering turd of a record," the singer promotes the release in the hope it will become the Christmas number one single. During his publicity tour, Billy promises to perform the song naked on television should his recording hit the top spot, and he keeps his word—albeit while wearing boots and holding a strategically placed guitar—when it does. After briefly celebrating his victory at a party hosted by Sir Elton John, Billy unexpectedly arrives at Joe's flat and explains that Christmas is a time to be with the people you love, and that he had just realized that Joe "is the person I love." He reminds Joe that "We have had a wonderful life" touring around the world together over the years. And he suggests that the two celebrate Christmas by getting drunk and watching porn. Billy and Joe's story is the only one exploring platonic love, and the two characters are unrelated to any of the other characters in film, although a few of the other characters are shown watching Billy Mack on their TVs. At the end of the film, Billy Mack arrives at the airport terminal with a gorgeous six-foot blonde woman pushing his luggage cart. He refers to her as one of two (and possibly more) new girlfriends, indicating his career has taken a turn for the better. Joe is there to greet him and their friendly relationship remains solid.

Juliet, Peter and Mark

Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are wed in a lovely ceremony videotaped by Mark (Andrew Lincoln), Peter's best friend and best man. When the professional wedding video turns out to be dreadful, Juliet shows up at Mark's door in hopes of getting a copy of his footage, despite the fact that he has always been cold and unfriendly to her. The video turns out to consist entirely of close-ups of her, and she realizes that he is secretly in love with her. Mortified, Mark explains that his coldness to her is "a self-preservation thing" and excuses himself. On Christmas Eve, Mark shows up at Juliet and Peter's door posing as a carol singer with a portable CD player, and uses a series of cardboard signs to silently tell her that "at Christmas you tell the truth," yet, "without hope or agenda... to me, you are perfect." As he leaves, Juliet runs after Mark to give him a kiss and a sweet, sympathetic embrace before returning to Peter. Mark tells himself, "Enough, enough now," perhaps acknowledging that it's time to move on with his life.

Jamie and Aurélia

Writer Jamie (Colin Firth) first appears preparing to attend Juliet and Peter's wedding. His girlfriend (Sienna Guillory) misses the ceremony allegedly due to illness, but when Jamie unexpectedly returns home before the reception, he discovers her engaging in sexual relations with his brother. Heartbroken, Jamie retires to the solitude of his French cottage to immerse himself in his writing. Here he meets Portuguese housekeeper Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz), who speaks only her native tongue. Despite the language barrier they manage to communicate with each other, with subtitles indicating they are at times in agreement with each other, and sometimes of opposite minds. Jamie returns to England, where he takes a course in Portuguese. On Christmas Eve, he decides to ditch celebrations with his family to fly to Marseille. In the crowded Portuguese restaurant where Aurelia works as a waitress, he proposes to her in his mangled Portuguese, and she accepts using her recently learned English. The film ends with Jamie and Aurélia, now engaged, returning from Portugal. They are met by Peter, Juliet, and Mark. Aurelia jokes that if Jamie had told her his friends were so handsome, she might have chosen a different Englishman. Jamie then jokes that she doesn't speak English well and doesn't know what she's saying.

Harry, Karen and, Mia

Harry (Alan Rickman) is the managing director of a design agency. Mia (Heike Makatsch), his new secretary, clearly has designs on him. His nascent mid-life crisis allows him tentatively to welcome her attention, and for Christmas he buys her an expensive necklace from jewellery salesman Rufus (Rowan Atkinson), who takes a very long time adding ever more elaborate wrapping while Harry becomes increasingly nervous with the fear of detection. Meanwhile, Harry's wife Karen (Emma Thompson) is busy dealing with their children, Daisy (Lulu Popplewell) and Bernard (William Wadham), who are appearing in the school Nativity; her brother David; and her friend Daniel, who has just lost his wife to cancer. Karen discovers the necklace in Harry's coat pocket and assumes it is a gift for her, only to be given the CD Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" to "continue [Karen's] emotional education," as Harry puts it, instead. She immediately concludes Harry is having an affair, and briefly breaks down alone in her bedroom before composing herself to attend the children's play with her husband. Following the play, Karen confronts Harry, who admits that he has been a "classic fool," a point driven home to him when he sees Karen enthusiastically congratulating their children. As for Mia, she is shown smiling while trying on the necklace. Harry returns home from a trip abroad, and Karen and his children are there to greet him. Harry is delighted to see his kids again; his exchange with Karen is more reserved, but suggests that, though the two are not on steady terms, they intend to give their marriage a chance.

David and Natalie

Karen's brother, the recently-elected British Prime Minister David (Hugh Grant), is young, handsome, and single. Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) is a new junior member of the household staff at 10 Downing St. and regularly serves his tea and biscuits. Something seems to click between them, but with the exception of some mild flirting, neither pursues the attraction. When the President of the United States (Billy Bob Thornton) pays a visit, his conservative attitude and flat refusal to relax any policies leave the British advisors stymied. It is only after David walks in to find the President attempting to seduce Natalie that he stands up for the UK at a nationally televised press conference, saying Britain is a great country for things like Harry Potter and David Beckham's right foot ("David Beckham's left foot, come to that"), and embarrassing the President by saying that "a friend who bullies us is no longer a friend." Concerned that his affections for Natalie are affecting his political judgment, David asks for her to be "redistributed." Later, while looking through a sampling of Christmas cards, David comes across a card signed "I'm actually yours. With Love, Your Natalie." Encouraged by this he sets out to find her. After much doorbell ringing, including a ring at Mia's doorstep, David eventually finds Natalie at her family's home. Hoping to have some time with Natalie, David offers to drive everyone to the local school for the play, the same one in which his niece and nephew are appearing. The two watch the show from backstage, and their budding relationship is exposed to the audience when a curtain at the rear of the stage is raised during the big finale and David and Natalie are caught in a passionate kiss. As David walks through the gate at the airport in the finale, Natalie—heedless of the surrounding paparazzi—runs straight through his entourage and leaps into his arms, planting a big kiss on him.

Daniel and Carol; Sam and Joanna

Daniel (Liam Neeson) has just lost his wife Joanna to a protracted illness, leaving him and stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) to fend for themselves. Daniel must deal with his sudden responsibility, as well as the evident end of his love life. ("That was a done deal long ago", he says to Sam, "unless, of course, Claudia Schiffer calls, in which case I want you out of the house straight away, you wee motherless mongrel.") Sam, too, is especially forlorn about something, and eventually reveals that he is in love with a girl from his school, also named Joanna (Olivia Olson), who, he assumes, doesn't know he exists. After seeing Billy Mack's new video in a store window, he comes up with a plan, based on the premise that "girls love musicians . . . even the really weird ones get girlfriends." With Daniel's encouragement, Sam teaches himself to play the drums, eventually acting as drummer for Joanna's performance of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" at the same aforementioned school play. Unfortunately, Sam's drumming fails to make his intention clear, and he and Daniel try to catch Joanna and her family at the airport where her family is heading back to the United States for the holidays. Meanwhile, just before Daniel and Sam's hasty departure from the Nativity play for the airport, Daniel bumps into another parent, Carol (played by Claudia Schiffer), and sparks immediately fly. Once Daniel and Sam reach the airport, the attendant refuses to let Sam through. However the attendant is distracted by another passenger, the jewellery clerk Rufus, and Sam is able to sneak through and race past the security checkpoint. With the gate staff distracted by Billy Mack's naked performance on TV monitors, Sam is able to reach Joanna to confess his love to her just as she is about to board the plane. He is brought back to his stepfather by security guards, but Joanna runs back to Sam to give him a kiss on the cheek. In triumph he leaps into Daniel's arms. In the finale, Daniel and Carol are at the airport, hand in hand, with Carol's son and Sam as he awaits Joanna's return from the States. When Joanna walks through the doors, Sam says, "Hello," restraining the impulse to embrace her. Daniel curses, "He should have kissed her..." but Carol soothes him, "No, that's cool."

arah and Karl

Sarah (Laura Linney) first appears at the wedding of Juliet and Peter, sitting next to her friend Jamie. We learn she works at Harry's design agency and has been in love for years with the creative director Karl (Rodrigo Santoro), a not-so-secret obsession recognized by Harry, who implores her to say something to him since it's Christmas and Karl is aware of her feelings anyway. Unfortunately for all concerned, Sarah has an institutionalized and mentally ill brother who calls her mobile phone incessantly. Sarah feels responsible for her brother and constantly puts her life on hold to support him. Sarah's chance at making love with Karl, following her company's Christmas party (hosted at an art gallery run by Mark), is abandoned when her brother again calls her at the most inopportune time. On Christmas Eve, she wishes Karl "Merry Christmas" as he leaves the office, and it is clear he wants to say something to her, but he departs and she breaks down in tears before picking up her phone to ring her brother.

Colin, Tony, and the Wisconsin girls

After several blunders attempting to woo various English women, including Mia and the caterer at Juliet and Peter's wedding, Colin Frissell (Kris Marshall) informs his friend Tony he plans to go to America and find love there because, in his estimation, the U.S. is filled to the brim with gorgeous women who will fall head over heels for him because of his "cute British accent." ("Stateside, I'm Prince William... without the weird family.") The first place he goes after landing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is an average American bar where he meets three stunningly attractive women (Ivana Milicevic, January Jones, and Elisha Cuthbert) who, after falling for his Basildon accent, invite him to stay at their home, specifically in their bed, with them and their housemate Harriet (Shannon Elizabeth) ("the sexy one"). They warn him that, because they are poor, they can't even afford pajamas, so everyone will be naked. In the finale, a much cooler and more suave Colin returns to England with Harriet, the fourth Wisconsin girl, for himself, and her sister Carla (Denise Richards) who came on the flight to meet Tony. Carla embraces and kisses a startled Tony, and tells him that, "I heard that you were gorgeous."

John and Judy

In a story that was excised completely from the censored version of the DVD release of the film, John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page), who up to this point were unknown to each other, work as stand-ins for the sex scenes in a movie. Colin's friend Tony is part of the film crew, and gives them directions as to the activities they should simulate so that lighting checks and such can be completed before the actors are called to the set. Despite their blatantly sexual actions, and frequent nudity, they are very naturally comfortable with each other, discussing politics, traffic, and previous jobs as if they'd known one another for years. John even tells Judy that "it is nice to have someone I can just chat with." The two carefully and cautiously pursue a relationship, and see the play at the local school together with John's brother. In the finale at the airport, Tony, while waiting for Colin, runs into John and Judy, about to depart on a trip together. Judy happily displays an engagement ring on her finger.

Production notes

The Working Title Films production, budgeted at $45,000,000, was released by Universal Pictures. It grossed $59,472,278 in the US and $188,000,000 internationally for a worldwide total of $247,472,278. [ [ "Love Actually" at] ]

Most of the movie was filmed 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.

The set for Daniel and Sam's house was the same one used in the film "Notting Hill", which starred Hugh Grant."Love Actually" audio commentary]

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.

Veteran actress Jeanne Moreau is seen briefly waiting for a taxi at the Marseille Airport. Soul singer Ruby Turner appears as Joanna Anderson's mother, one of the backup singers at the school Christmas pageant.

After the resignation of PM Tony Blair, pundits and speculators referred to a potential anti-American shift in Gordon Brown's cabinet as a "Love Actually" moment," referencing the scene in which Hugh Grant's character stands up to the American president. [ [ "The Telegraph", June 6, 2005] ] [ [ "The Telegraph", May 23, 2006] ] [ [ "USA Today", September 7, 2006] ]

Principal cast

*Alan Rickman ..... Harry
*Emma Thompson ..... Karen
*Hugh Grant ..... David
*Martine McCutcheon ..... Natalie
*Colin Firth ..... Jamie
*Lúcia Moniz ..... Aurélia
*Liam Neeson ..... Daniel
*Thomas Sangster ..... Sam
*Keira Knightley ..... Juliet
*Chiwetel Ejiofor ..... Peter
*Andrew Lincoln ..... Mark
*Laura Linney ..... Sarah
*Rodrigo Santoro ..... Karl
*Bill Nighy ..... Billy Mack
*Gregor Fisher ..... Joe
*Kris Marshall ..... Colin
*Abdul Salis ..... Tony
*Heike Makatsch ..... Mia
*Martin Freeman ..... John
*Joanna Page .....Judy
*Olivia Olson ..... Joanna
*Billy Bob Thornton ..... President of the United States
*Rowan Atkinson ..... Rufus
*Claudia Schiffer ..... Carol
*Ivana Milicevic ..... Stacey
*January Jones ..... Jeannie
*Elisha Cuthbert ..... Carol-Anne
*Shannon Elizabeth ..... Harriet
*Denise Richards ..... Carla
*Lulu Popplewell ..... Daisy


The film's original music was composed, orchestrated, and conducted by Craig Armstrong.

The soundtrack album reached the Top 40 of the US Billboard 200 in 2004 and ranked #2 on the soundtrack album chart. It also achieved gold record status in Australia and Mexico.

Songs heard on the soundtrack include:
*"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 Girls Aloud
*"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 UK release of the soundtrack features an additional score track by Craig Armstrong, "PM's Love Theme," and "Sometimes" performed by Gabrielle. However it does not include "Wherever You Will Go" by The Calling. The US disc replaced the Girls Aloud version of "Jump" with the Pointer Sisters' original recording.

"All I Want for Christmas Is You" was written and originally recorded by Mariah Carey.

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 heard in the film.

Critical reception

Upon its release, the film received generally positive reviews. 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." [ [ "New York Times" review] ]

Roger Ebert of the "Chicago Sun-Times" described 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." [ [ "Chicago Sun-Times" review] ]

Susan Wloszczyna of "USA Today" stated, "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." [ [ "USA Today" review] ]

Carla Meyer of the "San Francisco Chronicle" opined, " [it] abandons any pretext of sophistication for gloppy sentimentality, sugary pop songs and bawdy humor — 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." [ [ "San Francisco Chronicle" review] ]

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." [ [,,490210,00.html "Entertainment Weekly" review] ]

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." [ [ "Rolling Stone" review] ]

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." [ [ BBC review] ]

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." [ [ "Variety" review] ]

Michael Atkinson of "The Village Voice" called it "love British style, handicapped slightly by corny circumstance and populated by colorful neurotics." [ [,atkinson2,48388,20.html "Village Voice" review] ]

Awards and nominations

*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)


External links

* [ Official website]
*imdb title|id=0314331|title=Love Actually
*rotten-tomatoes|id=love_actually|title=Love Actually
* [ BBC News report on the premiere]

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