Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard Curtis|
|Produced by||Duncan Kenworthy
|Written by||Richard Curtis|
|Music by||Craig Armstrong|
|Editing by||Nick Moore|
Working Title Films
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release date(s)||7 November 2003 (limited)
14 November 2003 (US)
21 November 2003 (UK)
|Running time||136 minutes|
|Budget||$45 million (USD)
Love Actually is a 2003 British Christmas themed romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis. 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. The ensemble cast is composed predominantly of British actors.
Set primarily in London, the film 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 film begins with a voiceover from David (Hugh Grant) 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 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 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". 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 go to number one; after briefly celebrating his victory at a party hosted by Sir Elton John, Billy recognises that Joe is the "love" of his life (his most treasured companion) and suggests that he and Joe celebrate Christmas by getting drunk and watching porn.
Juliet, Peter and Mark 
Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are wed in a lovely ceremony orchestrated and videotaped by Mark (Andrew Lincoln), Peter's best friend and best man. One day Juliet arrives unexpectedly at Mark's apartment and watches his video, discovering that the footage is entirely of her. This confuses Juliet, who thought Mark didn't like her: He never talked to her, avoided her, and was generally distant and uncomfortable around her. He blurts out that he acts that way for 'self-preservation', and she finally realises that he's always been head over heels for her, but has kept it to himself out of respect for her and Peter's relationship. At Christmas Mark takes a moment to truly confess his unrequited love for Juliet (silently, using Dylan-esque word cards), which Juliet acknowledges by giving him a kiss. After this, Mark decides to set aside his infatuation and move on.
Jamie and Aurélia 
Writer Jamie (Colin Firth) first appears preparing to attend Juliet and Peter's wedding. His girlfriend (Sienna Guillory) misses the ceremony to sleep with his brother. Crushed by this, Jamie retires to his French cottage where he meets Portuguese housekeeper Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz), who speaks only her native tongue. There is an instant attraction between the two. When Jamie returns to England he realises he is in love with Aurélia. In the following times, Jamie learns Portuguese and returns to France to to find her. When he locates her, he proposes to her and she says yes. It is then revealed that she has been learning English to communicate with Jamie.
Harry, Karen and Mia 
Harry (Alan Rickman) is the managing director of a design agency; Mia (Heike Makatsch) is his new secretary. For Christmas he buys her an expensive necklace from jewellery salesman Rufus (Rowan Atkinson), who elaborately wraps 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 play. She voices her fears about Harry to her brother David (Hugh Grant), who just became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and her friend Daniel (Liam Neeson), who has just lost his wife. Karen discovers the necklace in Harry's coat pocket and initially assumes it is a gift for her; she later confronts Harry over the necklace and he admits his foolishness.
David and Natalie 
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 and serves his tea and biscuits. Something seems to click between them. David walks in to find the U.S. President (Billy Bob Thornton) sexually harassing Natalie, which inspires him to take a stand against the bullying President's policies. Finding that his relationship with Natalie has become strained, David has her moved to another job, but later comes across a Christmas card from Natalie ending with a declaration of her love for him. He eventually finds Natalie at her family's home, seeing that they are on the way to the local school for the nativity play (the same one in which his niece and nephew are appearing). He drives her family to the play, and the two watch the show from backstage, their budding relationship exposed when a curtain is raised on them kissing at the end of the pageant's big finale.
Daniel, Sam, Joanna and Carol 
Daniel (Liam Neeson), Karen's friend, and his stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) fend for themselves as they mourn the loss of their wife and mother, Joanna. Sam has fallen for 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 for his whole life. Sam runs away from the airport security and says hi to Joanna, who then kisses him on the cheek. Meanwhile, Daniel, who admires supermodel Claudia Schiffer meets Carol (who is played by Schiffer) the parent of another of Sam's school mates.
Sarah, Karl and Michael 
Sarah (Laura Linney) first appears at Juliet and Peter's wedding, sitting next to her friend Jamie. We learn she works at Harry's graphic design company, where she has been in love for years with the company's creative director, Karl (Rodrigo Santoro). A tryst between Karl and her is interrupted by phone calls from Sarah's mentally ill brother, Michael (Michael Fitzgerald), and this effectively ends their relationship. On Christmas Eve, she visits her brother at the institution where he lives, wrapping a scarf around him as he hugs her.
Colin, Tony and the American girls 
After several blunders attempting to woo various English women, including Nancy (Julia Davis), the caterer at Juliet and Peter's wedding, as well as Mia, Colin Frissell (Kris Marshall) informs his friend Tony (Abdul Salis) he plans to go to America and find love there, convinced that his Britishness will be an asset to him in a foreign country. 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 Judy 
John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page), meet as body doubles for the sex scenes in a film where 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; they carefully pursue a relationship, and see the play (same one as David & Natalie, Harry & Karen, Daniel & Sam, et. al.) at the local school together with John's brother.
Rufus, played by Rowan Atkinson, is the jewellery salesman whose obsessive attention to gift-wrapping nearly gets Harry caught by Karen buying Mia's necklace. 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.
In the epilogue set one month later, the relationships of the characters have continued to evolve. Billy arrives with a gorgeous groupie in tow to be greeted by Joe and indicating that his comeback has remained successful. Juliet, Peter, and Mark come to meet Jamie and his new bride Aurelia, showing both that they have married. Karen and the kids greet a returning Harry confirming that they have remained together. Sam greets Joanna who has returned with her mother from the US as Daniel looks on, joined by his new girlfriend Carol and her son. John and Judy run into Tony, who is there to meet Colin on his return from the US; they are shown to be just married and off to their honeymoon. Colin returns with the gorgeous Harriet, and Harriet's younger sister Carla (Denise Richards) who hugs and kisses Tony in greeting. Natalie is seen welcoming David back in front of press cameras, indicating that their relationship is now public. These scenes dissolve into live-footage of actual arrivals at Heathrow Airport, which divide the screen and eventually form a heart as The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" plays on.
Each story is linked in some way except for Billy Mack and his manager, who are not friends with any of the 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 and also catered Peter and Juliet's wedding. 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 and her dying lesbian partner.
- 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
- 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
The title, Love Actually, was intended by Curtis as an abbreviated version of the statement "Love Actually Is All Around", a reference to the mega-hit pop song "Love Is All Around", performed by Wet Wet Wet in Curtis's breakthrough film Four Weddings and a Funeral. The song is also parodied as "Christmas Is All Around" throughout Love Actually.
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.
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.
Ant and Dec played themselves in the film (in which Bill Nighy's character referred 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.
Veteran actress Jeanne Moreau is seen briefly, entering 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," 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 exemplar 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 P.M.'s household staff.
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 No. 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 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
Songs in director's cuts:
The UK release of the soundtrack features additional tracks by Craig Armstrong: "Prime Minister's Love Theme"; "Glasgow Love Theme"; and "Portuguese Love Theme". It also features "Sometimes" performed by Gabrielle. The US disc replaced the Girls Aloud version of "Jump (for My Love)" with the Pointer Sisters' original recording.
Alternative songs in UK vs. US versions of the film 
While the original US DVD released in 2004 (Universal Studios Home Entertainment #23293) contained the American cut of the film, the 2009 US Blu-ray release (Universal Studios Home Entertainment #61107958) actually contains the UK theatrical cut of the film. That cut features two alternative music placements. Kelly Clarkson's "The Trouble With Love Is" is replaced with "Too Lost in You" by Sugababes in the montage leading up to and continuing through the first part of the office party. A cover of "Jump (for My Love)" by Girls Aloud then replaces the Sugababes song as the second song in the end credit roll.
Upon its release, the film received generally positive reviews in Britain, although Will Self's review was vociferously contemptuous, saying Curtis' work (with reference in particular to the opening voiceover) was 'the most grotesque and sick manipulation of a cinema audience's feelings that I've ever seen since Leni von [sic] Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will'.
Reviews in the United States were mixed, with the film receiving an average rating of 55 out of 100 on Metacritic and 63% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. 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."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3½ 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 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."
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."
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."
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."
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".
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)
- Love Actually (2003) - Box office / business
- Love Actually (2003) - International Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo
- "''Love Actually'' at TheNumbers.com". The-numbers.com. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- Love Actually audio commentary
- Sylvester, Rachel (6 June 2005). "''The Telegraph'', June 6, 2005". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- Sylvester, Rachel (23 May 2006). "''The Telegraph'', May 23, 2006". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- Stinson, Jeffrey (7 September 2006). "''USA Today'', September 7, 2006". USA Today. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- "Chris Matthews Explains Republican Strategy With A Scene From ''Love Actually'', by Jon Bershad | December 21st, 2010". Mediaite.com. 21 December 2010. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- "Love Actually Soundtrack on Amazon". Retrieved 13 March 2011.
- [dead link]
- By A. O. SCOTT <p> (7 November 2003). "''New York Times'' review". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- "''Chicago Sun-Times'' review". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- Wloszczyna, Susan (5 November 2003). "''USA Today'' review". USA Today. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- Meyer, Carla (7 November 2003). "''San Francisco Chronicle'' review". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- Reviewed by Owen Gleiberman (26 July 2007). "''Entertainment Weekly'' review". Ew.com. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- Rolling Stone review[dead link]
- Reviewed by Nev Pierce Updated 20 November 2003 (20 November 2003). "BBC review". BBC. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- By (24 October 2003). "''Variety'' review". Variety. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- Michael Atkinson (4 November 2003). "''Village Voice'' review". Villagevoice.com. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Love Actually|
- Official website
- Love Actually at the Internet Movie Database
- Love Actually at Box Office Mojo
- Love Actually at Rotten Tomatoes
- BBC News report on the premiere