I hate romantic comedies. I detest them. You can list the actors I avoid watching: Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock, Richard Gere, Julia Roberts. Romantic comedies make me cringe and I avoid them like the plague so you can imagine the foul mood I was in when I was forced to watch this film.
And the introductory voice-over by Hugh Grant as we watch an airport full of people hugging made me want to commit an act of violence - either against the people who forced me to watch this film or against myself just to end the torture.
Then the most unbelievably shocking thing happened. Bill Nighy and Gregor Fischer came on screen, mocking one of the most hated love songs in Britain, "Love is all Around" and I found myself getting sucked into the film.
By the time I reached the end of the film I found myself facing the impossible, there was one romantic comedy out there that genuinely is a comedy and actually likeable. No-one was more shocked than I.
Many different kinds of love are covered (although not all kinds), there's 8 storylines and the biggest cast list I've seen in a long time. Somehow, it works. You'd think it wouldn't, I know I certainly didn't.
If you're looking for a full-length story, this is not the film for you. It snap-shots the important events leading to the resolution of the couples involved, nothing more. If you want a classic romantic film, this might not be the film for you. This is funnier than most straight comedies I've seen in recent times, however (I'm just as harsh a critic of comedy films as I am of romantic films).
It's not trying to be the meaning of life, it's not trying to look at the big picture. In fact, it's only trying to do one thing, and that's say positive feelings crop up in the most unexpected places or are more prevalent than people think. One of the storylines, one that is cited constantly in reviews as one of the failed storylines with a sad ending is actually bittersweet. It doesn't end with failure but the failure of one type of love in favour of a different kind.
This film isn't perfect, I'll never find the perfect romantic-comedy because I hate the genre so much, for example, one of the storylines did annoy me intensely and yet ironically still made me laugh in places. However, the flaws in the film are vastly outweighed by positives. It's superficially complicated but is really a very simple film. It makes a statement: "love actually is all around" then shows why it makes that statement and doesn't attempt to do or be anything else.
And like the fact it covers different kinds of love, it covers different attitudes and portrayals of it - so a couple are realistic, a couple are classic fantasy, a couple are pure comedy and a couple are pure rom-com tradition.
I have seen no reviewer give this film a middle-of-the-road review, and I've read many reviews. I think, in the end, Love Actually is up to the individual. It's like Marmite. You either love it or you hate it.
Speaking as a cynical, misanthropic, Marmite-hating, Romantic-Comedy hating member of the human race, I actually liked Love Actually.