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.
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.