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The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Love Actually

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Love Actually”
Rated R
2002

This feel-good tonic still makes you wonder how writer/director Richard Curtis (“Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Notting Hill”) had anything left for any other film.

2002’s romantic anthology — starring Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley and Laura Linney, among many others — crammed in every possible idea for an ending, sort of like the cutting-room floor of “Four Weddings” and “Notting.” Love even saved Britain from being perceived as a pushover in international relations.

Most films would end with the funeral retrospective by way of the Bay City Rollers, the doorstep confession of love or the extravagant Christmas pageant. But these arrive before not one, but two, mad airport dashes at Heathrow.

What could be an unsalvageable mess instead becomes an utterly charming, classy and uproarious work of romantic hopefulness — pilloried to vastly diminishing returns by American filmmakers in drivel like “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Curtis believes, and conveys, how romantic pixie dust inspires moments of temporary bliss and/or insanity, and how those moments do, or don’t, take permanent hold.

At times, it’s overwhelming. But Neeson’s widower outbursts carry uncanny power, Thompson’s ultimatum speech to Rickman is outstanding and Grant delightfully dances to the Pointer Sisters’ “Jump” after a gesture of affection.

Even through all its false endings, “Love Actually” coasts so effortlessly on its goodwill that the near-150-minute running time soars. And when it came to the true, real-deal conclusion, Curtis displayed the same command over it as in his other screenplays.


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4 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Love Actually”

  1. […] Marshall is still trying to remake “Love Actually.” What Garry Marshall hasn’t quite grasped is the reason “Love Actually” worked: […]

  2. Nick Rogers says:

    mia: Paid in full. And that doesn’t sound schmaltzy at all. Rom-com writers get it right when they let emotions specify a situation, not the other way around. (For me, that’s where "He’s Just Not That Into You" got it wrong.) Clearly, there are elements of all those forms of love in "Love Actually," and because Richard Curtis wrote *for* them rather than cramming them into a story, that’s why the movie is great.

  3. I’m a day late, but hopefully not a dollar short, with a comment! Here goes:

    I saw Love Actually no less than four times in the theatre. Once with my very best friend, crammed in the front row of a full house. (The neck strain was worth it.) Once by myself, taking a much-needed study break from legal writing. Once with a date, who got points for liking Colin Firth in this and in Pride & Prejudice. Once with my family, who laughed, cried, and subsequently quoted (which in our household is the grandmaster of compliments).

    I feel like each time I saw Love Actually was a representation of the different kinds of love in the world–friendship, solitary, romantic and familial–and therefore each time I saw the movie through new eyes. And this sounds really schmaltzy, but like the movie itself, each time was profound. Because Hugh Grant’s character told the truth in his opening voiceover: love actually is all around.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nick Rogers, The Film Yap. The Film Yap said: Don't buy drugs. Become a pop star, and they give you them for free! http://bit.ly/aeqwvr #bestfilmsofthedecade #heroesofthezeroes […]