Love Actuallyis a 2003 Christmas -themed romantic comedy film written and directed by Richard Curtis . It features an ensemble cast , many of whom had worked with Curtis in previous film and television projects. 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. Most of the film was filmed on location in London. The story 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 United States release was on 14 November 2003 and a week later in the United Kingdom, where it debuted to very positive reviews, but received mixed-to-positive reviews in the US. The film was a box-office success, grossing almost $247 million worldwide on a budget of $45 million.
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:
Love Actually is a 2003 British 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.
The film begins five weeks before Christmas and is played out in a week by week countdown until the holiday with 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 known 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." Despite his honest admission that it is a "festering turd of a record," the singer promotes the release in the hope it will become the Christmas number one single. During his publicity tour, Billy repeatedly causes Joe grief by pulling stunts such as defacing a poster of rival musicians Blue with a speech bubble reading, "We've got little pricks." He also promises to perform his song naked on television should it hit the top spot. The song does go to number one and Mack keeps his word-albeit while wearing boots and holding a strategically placed guitar. After briefly celebrating his victory at a party hosted by Sir Elton John, Billy unexpectedly arrives at Joe's flat and explains that Christmas is a time to be with the people you love, and that he had just realized that "the people I love... is you", despite simultaneously hitting Joe with insulting comments about his weight. He reminds Joe that "We have had a wonderful ride" touring around the world together over the years. He suggests that the two 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. Mark has always been cold and unfriendly to Juliet and tries to avoid her, despite her relationship with Peter. When the professional wedding video turns out to be dreadful, Juliet shows up at Mark's door in hopes of getting a copy of his footage and tells him she wants to be friends with him. The video he recorded turns out to consist entirely of close-ups of her, and she realises that he secretly has feelings for her. Mortified, Mark creates an excuse to leave and informs Juliet that his prior cold attitude towards her was "a self-preservation thing". On Christmas Eve, Mark shows up at Juliet and Peter's door posing as a carol singer with a portable CD player, and uses a series of cardboard signs to silently tell her that "at Christmas you tell the truth," and, "without hope or agenda... to me, you are perfect". As he leaves, Juliet runs after him and kisses him, before returning to Peter. Mark tells himself, "Enough, enough now," perhaps acknowledging that he's found closure and can move on with his life.
Jamie and Aurélia
Writer Jamie (Colin Firth) first appears preparing to attend Juliet and Peter's wedding. His girlfriend (Sienna Guillory) misses the ceremony allegedly due to illness, but when Jamie unexpectedly returns home before the reception, he discovers her engaging in sexual relations with his brother. Heartbroken, Jamie retires to the solitude of his French cottage to immerse himself in his writing. Here he meets Portuguese housekeeper Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz), who speaks only her native tongue Portuguese. Despite the language barrier they manage to communicate with each other.
Jamie returns to London, where he takes a course in Portuguese. On Christmas Eve, he decides to ditch celebrations with his family (including his aforementioned brother) to fly to Marseille. In the crowded restaurant where Aurelia works her second job as a waitress, he proposes to her in broken Portuguese, and she accepts in broken English—which she had been studying just in case he came back.
Harry, Karen, and Mia
Harry (Alan Rickman) is the managing director of a design agency. Mia (Heike Makatsch), his new secretary, clearly has sexual feelings for him. His nascent mid-life crisis allows him tentatively to welcome her attention, and for Christmas he buys her an expensive necklace from jewellery salesman Rufus (Rowan Atkinson), who takes a very long time adding ever more elaborate wrapping 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, her brother David, a politician who just became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and her friend Daniel, who has just lost his wife. Karen discovers the necklace in Harry's coat pocket and assumes it is a gift for her, only to be given the CD Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now to "continue [Karen's] emotional education", as Harry puts it, instead. She then believes Harry is having an affair with Mia (having earlier noticed how closely they were dancing together at their office party), and briefly breaks down alone in her bedroom before composing herself to attend the children's play with her husband. Following the play, Karen confronts Harry over the necklace, who admits, "I am so in the wrong - a classic fool", to which Karen replies: "Yes, but you've also made a fool out of me - you've made the life I lead foolish too", before blinking back tears and enthusiastically congratulating their children. As for Mia, she is shown smiling while trying on the necklace.
David and Natalie
Karen's brother, the recently elected British Prime Minister David (Hugh Grant), is young, handsome, and single. Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) is a new junior member of the household staff at 10 Downing Street and regularly serves his tea and biscuits. Something seems to click between them, but with the exception of some mild flirting, neither pursues the attraction. When the President of the United States (Billy Bob Thornton) pays a visit, his conservative attitude and flat refusal to relax any joint-policies which might leave Britain at a disadvantage leave his advisors stymied. It is only after David walks in to find the President attempting to seduce Natalie that he stands up for the UK at a nationally televised press conference, saying Britain is a great country for things like William Shakespeare, Harry Potter, the Beatles and David Beckham's right foot ("David Beckham's left foot, come to that"), and openly chides the President by saying that "a friend who bullies us is no longer a friend." Concerned that his affections for Natalie are affecting his political judgment, David asks for her to be "redistributed." Later, while looking through a sampling of Christmas cards, David comes across a card signed "I'm actually yours. With Love, Your Natalie." Encouraged by this he sets out to find her. However, he knows only the name of her street not her full address. After much doorbell ringing, including a ring at Mia's house, David eventually finds Natalie at her family's home. Hoping to have some time with Natalie, David offers to drive everyone to the local school for the play, the same one in which his niece and nephew are appearing (as he realises only when his sister, Karen - still unsteady from her recent discovery of her husband's suspected affair - spots him and thanks him for finally managing to come to a family function). The two watch the show from backstage, and their budding relationship is exposed to the audience when a curtain at the rear of the stage is raised during the big finale and David and Natalie are caught in a passionate kiss. Undeterred, they smile and wave.
Daniel and Carol; Sam and Joanna
Daniel (Liam Neeson), Karen's friend, is introduced in the film during the funeral for his wife, Joanna. Her death, caused by an unspecified long-term illness, has left Daniel and his stepson Sam (Thomas Sangster) to fend for themselves. Daniel must deal with his sudden responsibility, as well as the perceived end of his love life. ("That was a done deal long ago," he says to Sam, "unless, of course, Claudia Schiffer calls, in which case I want you out of the house straight away, you wee motherless mongrel.") Sam, too, is especially forlorn about something, eventually revealing that he is in love with an American girl from his school, also named Joanna (Olivia Olson), who he assumes does not know he exists. After seeing Billy Mack's new video in a store window, he comes up with a plan, based on the premise that "girls love musicians. Even the really weird ones get girlfriends." With Daniel's encouragement, Sam teaches himself to play the drums, eventually acting as top for Joanna's performance of "All I Want for Christmas Is You" at the aforementioned Nativity Festival. Unfortunately, Sam's drumming fails to secure Joanna's attention the way he had hoped. After the play, Daniel consoles Sam, who is also heartbroken over recent news of Joanna's return to the United States, and convinces him to go catch Joanna at the airport.
While Sam dashes off to collect his things, Daniel bumps into another parent, Carol (played by Claudia Schiffer), and sparks immediately fly. Sam and Daniel leave to find Joanna before she and her family board their flight to America. Once Daniel and Sam arrive, the attendant refuses to let Sam through. However, while the attendant is distracted by another passenger, the jewellery clerk Rufus, Daniel encourages him to go on without the attendant seeing and Sam is able to sneak through and race past the security checkpoint. With the gate staff distracted by Billy Mack's promised naked performance on TV monitors, Sam is able to reach Joanna and confess his love to her just as she is about to board the plane. He is brought back to his stepfather by security guards, but Joanna runs back to Sam to give him a kiss on the cheek. In triumph he leaps into Daniel's arms.
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 its creative director, Karl (Rodrigo Santoro). Harry lets her know that the love has been a secret to no one, including Karl, and suggests that since it's Christmas, she should approach him. Following the company's Christmas party (hosted at Mark's art gallery), Karl comes home with Sarah, with both having the intention of a sexual encounter occurring. However, Sarah's mentally ill brother, Michael (Michael Fitzgerald), calls and interrupts the couple not once but twice as they attempt to begin. The second time, Karl suggests she not answer (asking whether her answering him will make him better). Her answering effectively ends their relationship. On Christmas Eve, she wishes Karl a Merry Christmas. As Karl leaves, he approaches Sarah and begins "I–", but then ends merely with "Merry Christmas." Afterward, she briefly cries before calling her brother. She is then shown visiting her brother at the institution where he lives, wrapping a scarf around him as he hugs her.
Colin, Tony, Stacey, Jeannie, Carol-Anne, Harriet and Carla
After several blunders attempting to woo various English women, including Mia and Nancy (the caterer at Juliet and Peter's wedding), Colin Frissell (Kris Marshall) informs his friend Tony (Abdul Salis) he plans to go to the US and find love there because, in his estimation, that country is full to the brim with gorgeous women who will fall head over heels for him because of his 'cute British accent'. ("Stateside I'm Prince William without the weird family.") The first place he goes after landing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is an 'average' US bar where he meets Stacey (Ivana Milicevic), 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, specifically in their bed, with them and their housemate Harriet (Shannon Elizabeth) ("the sexy one"). They warn him that because they can't afford pajamas, everyone will be naked, and Colin accepts.
John and Judy
In a story that was excised completely from the censored version of the DVD release of the film,[clarification needed] John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page), who up to this point were unknown to each other, work as stand-ins for the sex scenes in a movie. Colin's friend Tony is part of the film crew, and gives them directions as to the activities they should simulate so that lighting checks and such can be completed before the actors are called to the set. Despite their blatantly sexual actions, and frequent nudity, they are very naturally comfortable with each other, discussing politics, traffic, and previous jobs as if they have known one another for years. John even tells Judy that "it is nice to have someone [he] can just chat with." The two carefully and cautiously pursue a relationship, and see the play at the local school together with John's brother.
Rufus is a minor but significant character played by Rowan Atkinson. He is the Selfridges jewellery salesman whose obsessive attention to gift-wrapping gets Harry caught buying Mia's necklace, and later at the airport, his distraction of an attendant allows Sam to sneak through security and see Joanna before she goes back to America. In the original script, the character was revealed to be an angel, and the airport scene showed him disappearing as he walked through the crowd, but this aspect of the character was removed, although he does give Daniel a seemingly knowing look indicating he knows he is giving Sam cover to slip through. Richard Curtis says that with all the storylines already complicating the movie, "the idea of introducing another layer of supernatural beings" seemed over-the-top.
In the epilogue set one month later, Billy Mack returns from vacation with a girlfriend, and the implication of having more. His friendship with Joe is stronger than ever. Jamie returns to England with Aurelia, who meets Juliet, Peter and Mark; the friendship of the latter two is unaffected. Joanna returns to England with her mother, and Sam is there to greet her, accompanied by his father and Carol. Tony, waiting for Colin to return, bumps into John and Judy, who are engaged to be married. Colin finally returns, with a new girlfriend, Harriet—and her sister Carla (Denise Richards), whom he brought over for Tony. Karen and her children are waiting for Harry to come back from a business trip; their reunion is formal, but he is definitely returning home. And David also lands at Heathrow, surrounded by paparazzi and guards, but is tackled by the radiant Natalie, who has been waiting for him. These scenes then dissolve into live-footage of arrivals at Heathrow Airport, which divide the screen and eventually form a heart as the Beach Boys' God Only Knows plays on.