DVDfever.co.uk – Love Actually Blu-ray review Dom Robinson reviews
Universal Pictures UK Blu-ray:
- Running time: 135 minutes
- Year: 2003
- Cat no: G51-46103R0
- Released: October 2009
- Region(s): 2, PAL
- Chapters: 20 plus extras
- Picture: 1080p High Definition
- Sound: DTS 5.1
- Languages: English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Spanish (Latin American), Italian
- Subtitles: English plus 7 other languages
- Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Super 35)
- 16:9-Enhanced: Yes
- Macrovision: Yes
- Disc Format: BD50
- Price: £19.99 (Blu-ray); £5.99 (DVD)
- Extras: Deleted Scenes, The Music of Love Actually, The Storytellers, Music Videos, Audio commentary
- Vote and comment on this film: View Comments
- Richard Curtis
- Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Duncan Kenworthy
- Richard Curtis
- Craig Armstrong
- The Prime Minister: Hugh Grant
Jamie Bennett: Colin Firth
Daniel: Liam Neeson
Harry: Alan Rickman
Juliet: Keira Knightley
Billy Mack: Bill Nighy
Natalie: Martine McCutcheon
The US President: Billy Bob Thornton
Rufus, jewellery salesman: Rowan Atkinson
Nancy the caterer: Julia Davis
Colin Frissell: Kris Marshall
Karen: Emma Thompson
John: Martin Freeman
Sarah: Laura Linney
Mia: Heike Makatsch
Mark: Andrew Lincoln
Aurelia: Lucia Moniz
Radio Watford DJ: Brian Bovell
Mikey, DJ interviewer: Marcus Brigstocke
Jamie’s girlfriend: Sienna Guillory
Joe: Gregor Fisher
Just Judy: Joanna Page
Alex, Deputy Prime Minister: Richard Hawley
Peter: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Karl: Rodrigo Santoro
Annie: Nina Sosanya
Sam: Thomas Sangster
Stacey, American Dreamgirl: Ivana Milicevic
Jeannie, American Angel: January Jones
Carol-Anne, American Goddess: Elisha Cuthbert
Natalie’s dad: Bill Moody
Mrs Jean Anderson: Ruby Turner
Carol: Claudia Schiffer
Greta: Nancy Sorrell
Harriet, the sexy one: Shannon Elizabeth
Carla, the real friendly one: Denise Richards
Themselves: Ant & Dec, Jo Whiley, Michael Parkson, Wes Butters
Love Actually is perfect escapist entertainment.
Richard Curtis‘ directorial debut tells the tale of 9 stories of love, some of which intertwine over the five weeks leading up until Christmas. What the film proves is what we all know, which is when love doesn’t work out, or simply being single, especially near Christmas, can make you feel like shit. When things do work out, everything’s completely turned around, although if things don’t work out repeatedly however much one tries then one’s conscience can only be consoled by several hours of Grand Theft Auto, a rocket-launcher and a cheat for infinite ammo.
When it comes to the cast in this ensemble piece with many well-known names and cameos, although Hugh Grant doesn’t make for a believeable Prime Minister, most of the actors onscreen are just playing themselves or the same kind of character they always play, often all trying to find love in one form or another so you can overlook any shortcomings in characterisation as there are relationships that blossom which really do shine above the rest such as that between Harry (Alan Rickman) and his horny secretary, Mia (Heike Makatsch), despite the fact that he’s married to Karen (Emma Thompson), sister of the aforementioned Prime Minister.
There are relationships that are set to work out, while others don’t, either due to fate or because of knock-on effects of those that did. It also seems like a longform video at times because a number of scenes punctuate the characters’ emotions by blasting out music to a backdrop of a nice central London skyline and furnishings in posh studio apartments, where everyone’s nice to each other and everything’s so nicey-nice you’d have thought the word “nice” hadn’t actually been invented by The Good Life as we all know they did.
As the film goes on, it doesn’t do anything that’s new but does have a certain style about it that is pleasing and would be easily welcome for a Sunday afternoon. As a home-cinema fan, though, I question some things in the movie such as since Liam Neeson has a fancy TFT monitor for his PC and plays DVDs on his Philips DVD recorder, why does he then zoom a 2.35:1-ratio film like Titanic to fill his 16:9 widescreen TV? And later, when Billy Mack’s (Bill Nighy in a devilishly-good performance as an ageing popstar being forced into a comeback) cheesy Christmas cover of “Love Is All Around” is played on a store department widescreen TV, that they distort it in such a way that makes everyone look fat? (for the technically-minded the source is a 2.35:1 letterbox image and this is stretched sideways across the screen, and when I saw a similar thing in Currys once, I corrected it). Just seems odd when Curtis otherwise makes an excellent job of filling the 2.35:1 anamorphic ratio, which will be cropped to 16:9 when it’s shown on TV, no doubt.
At the end of the 2hrs+, it is a well-spent time but you do realise that some of the relationships had potential to be better put across and that Richard Curtis has rather bitten off more than he could chew, but then if these love stories were taken further they’d just string out everything we’ve seen before so there’s probably little point. Whichever way you look at it, Curtis isn’t Paul Thomas Anderson and this isn’t Magnolia, but it’d be interesting to see if he could take things in that direction.
The picture is presented in an anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen ratio with gorgeous shots of pretty landscapes, and not just of London as some characters go further afield. However, it does look a tad on the grainy side quite often which doesn’t help much, as does the fact that it also looks rather stilted on occasion in verh bright scenes. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound only gets a workout when music breaks out, but this is used to great effect.
The extras are as follows:
- Deleted scenes (37:16): 11 scenes, all introduced by Curtis, some of which seem to go on for ages, but then before it was trimmed down to just over two hours, the total running time was 3½ hours so some things had to go. These scenes are all worth a watch once but wouldn’t necessarily fit back in the film as some of them would slow the pacing down a bit.
- The Music of Love Actually (21:04): Five songs, all of which are introduced by Curtis: Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”, Olivia Olson’s cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas”, Eva Cassidy’s “Songbird”, Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” and Craig Armstrong’s “Total Agony Theme”.
- The Storytellers (9:58): Key cast and crew members waffle meaninglessly and kiss Richard Curtis’ arse, interspersed with film clips. Presented in 16:9 widescreen.
- Music videos: Kelly Clarkson’s The Trouble With Love Is (3:48), which made No.35 in November 2003 and the video for Billy Mack’s christmas tune, Christmas is All Around (4:13) in 2.35:1 letterbox (why not anamorphic?), which made No.26 in December 2003, aping the late Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love video.
- Audio commentary: with chat from director Richard Curtis and actors Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy and Thomas Sangster.
The menu mixes images from the film with a short piece of incidental music playing over and over. There are subtitles in 8 languages, while the 20 chapters which isn’t enough for the rather long movie that it is and the menu is incredibly slow to access, as can be seen when you scroll down the extras and options. It takes almost a second for each one to pass by, and pressing ‘down’ quickly doesn’t make any difference.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.