“Love Actually” can be described as iconic, monumental, the epitome of a rom-com. It’s been almost 20 years since the British film’s release. Is it still as good as it was when it came out?
Separated into interwoven character stories, the plot is confusing at times, yet manages to tie together with a beautiful Christmas bow by the end of it.
The star-studded cast, including rom-com icon Hugh Grant, is a major draw, but from the first scene, we run into major red flags. The movie is set in the early 2000s and kicks off with a reference to the final farewell calls of victims of 911, an opening I would not recommend using anytime soon.
Despite the often cringe-y scenes and structure of the film, it is still riddled with nostalgia and has me wishing I were cast as a lobster in my childhood. What’s better than being a lobster in the nativity play — especially if you’re the first lobster?
So, what is “Love Actually”? I conclude that it is a staple in Christmas-themed rom-com watching, despite having come out over 16 years ago. It is still funny, though the controversies remain controversial; arriving at your best friends’ house to profess your love for his wife isn’t a great move. Audiences love a happy ending; it sticks in the memory long after and keeps you coming back for more.
If anything, it is refreshing to critique the lives of these fictional characters, squeezing in a smile every now and then, in between uncomfortable grimaces from the overwhelmingly early-2000s setting and awkward scenes. Fear not, the soundtrack still slaps, with Kelly Clarkson hits as iconic as ever. Forgotten gem “The Trouble with Love Is” has immediately made a comeback to my Spotify’s “On Repeat” playlist for sure.
The late November 2003 release of “Love Actually” received a mostly positive critical acclaim from the U.K., while in the U.S. it received mixed reviews.
My final conclusion? It’s not the perfect rom-com film, but it is iconic. It’s worth watching at least once, for good measure, and maybe once every six years just to remind yourself of the highlights.
“Love Actually” is confusing, conflicted and classic. If this film were to be created today, instead of a big-screen blockbuster, a TV limited series similar to the likes of Amazon Prime’s “Modern Love” or “Four Weddings and a Funeral” would be the best fit. In this format, it would have had much better reception and each episode could have been dedicated to a separate love story without confusing the audience.
Liam Neeson and Colin Firth are the best parts of this movie, but that’s not surprising. I was surprised at just how un-classy this film is. Every time there is a slightly heartwarming scene, it is soon ruined by jumping to another “love” story, shifting situations so drastically it distracts from the epic love stories.