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Richard Curtis
Hugh Grant, Laura Linney, Bill Nighy
Writing Credits:
Richard Curtis

Set in London, eight very different couples deal with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$6,886,080 on 576 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby Atmos
Spanish DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 135 min.
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 11/28/2023

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Richard Curtis and Actors Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy and Thomas Sangster
• “Making Love Actually” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Music of Love Actually” Featurettes
• “The Storytellers” Featurette
• 2 Music Videos
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Love Actually [4K UHD] (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 13, 2023)

While it did well elsewhere – especially in the UK – 2003’s Love Actually failed to find a large audience in the US. In that territory, the film ended up in 49th place for the 2002 box office, stuck between fellow Christmas movie Bad Santa and not-at-all Christmas movie Gothika.

However, over the last 20 years, Americans joined their counterparts across the pond in their affection for this ensemble romantic comedy and turned Love Actually into something of a modern classic. That said, it doesn’t come without controversies, but we’ll address those later.

Set mainly in London during the lead-up to Christmas, we meet a mix of locals. In particular, we observe their romantic travails and successes.

That might become the shortest plot synopsis I ever wrote. Given the size of the cast, however, I figured I should keep it short ‘n’ sweet rather than devote many paragraphs to specifics about the slew of characters.

Actually indeed throws a lot of participants at us – too many, in my opinion. Even at 135 minutes, the film attempts to balance so many roles that inevitably, all get the short shrift.

I won’t even attempt to count how many major characters we locate, primarily because I can’t claim Actually delivers any main personalities. Of course, that happens with ensembles, but few movies come with so many roles that become so equally distributed.

By that I mean most multi-character stories tend to favor some much more than others. Instead, Actually distributes screen time fairly evenly – I guess, as I didn’t clock minutes per role.

Anyway, this just feels like too many folks for one 135-minute movie to balance. We never really get to know any of those involved, and that severely impacts our ability to care about them or invest in their narratives.

Given that the entire film revolves around romance and relationships, an inability to give two hoots about any of the people feels like what I like to call a “fatal flaw”. Because Actually exists as a rom-com, it lives and dies with its characters, and their utter inability to manifest interesting or intriguing personalities harpoons the project.

As a middle-aged hetero dude, I realize that Actually doesn’t exist for my demographic. Not that rom-coms can’t appeal to folks in my pack, but movies such as this primarily aim for women.

Nonetheless, good films transcend genre. I find no reason that Actually couldn’t have brought a charming and enjoyable experience regardless of my demographic group.

Indeed, I expected to like Actually. Some of that stems from its aforementioned reputation as a modern Christmas classic, but I mainly felt that way because of the personnel involved.

Though Actually marked Richard Curtis’s debut as a director, he enjoyed a successful career as a writer. With films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Notting Hill under his belt, the man knows his way around rom-coms.

I might blame the issues here on Curtis’s inexperience as director, and that acts as a possible concern. Actually suffers from awkward pacing that makes it progress in a herky-jerky manner.

Again, a lot of this stems from the overstuffed nature of the project. With so many characters to service, it becomes difficult to transition smoothly among them.

Because Curtis also wrote the screenplay, however, he can’t blame someone else for these issues. He also can’t fault others for the movie’s persistently sappy tone.

Given the cast and the traditionally arch British sense of humor, I expected more snap to Actually. Instead, although we find bites of humor, the film concentrates much more on the “rom” than the “com”.

Curtis doesn’t do romance well and this leads to a soggy and uninspiring collection of love connections. None of the characters tend to feel especially real and they veer down too many cutesy or maudlin paths.

This means we find a film surprisingly devoid of humor or charm, an even more startling result given the amazing cast Curtis landed. We find a group that includes Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman and plenty of others.

That cast does help elevate the material a little, but they can’t overcome the inherent mawkishness of the film. Sure, a Love Actually with a weaker set of actors would’ve become a worse film, but given that the end product seems so blah, I can’t imagine a huge decline.

As for the controversies I mentioned at the start, the main theme comes from the film’s submissive view of women. Very few of the film’s females exist as anything other than fairly passive subjects of male affection and attention.

And these components lack any form of depth beyond simple male fantasies. In the flick’s most famous scene, Mark (Andrew Lincoln) uses handwritten cards to declare his love for Juliet (Knightley).

Juliet recently married Peter (Ejiofor), Mark’s best friend. Even though Mark literally has never spoken to Juliet, he falls “deeply” in love with her and stages this elaborate gesture to woo her.

Which he does at the house Peter and Juliet share. With Peter home at the time, and Mark uses deceit to keep his presence unknown from his “pal”.

Icky much?

And then there’s Jamie (Firth), a writer who decamps to France after his girlfriend cheats on him. He meets housekeeper Aurélia (Lúcia Moniz), a Portuguese woman who speaks no English.

Nonetheless, of course they fall in love despite the fact they never communicate with each other in a meaningful manner. Sure, the film depicts a non-verbal connection, but this still feels more like male fantasy than a realistic romance.

And so on. Only the story of Sarah (Linney) comes from a clear female POV, and it feels like a gratuitous addition.

Beyond all this nonsense, we find a bizarre fascination with the alleged obesity of one character. Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) works for new Prime Minister David (Grant) and they eventually fall in love.

For reasons I can’t discern, characters make many comments about Natalie’s overweight status. Which would be bad enough if true.

However, McCutcheon was far from fat. Indeed, I find her to be the most attractive member of the cast, so the notion she’s a “plumper” just seems bizarre and cruel.

Even without these issues, though, Actually becomes a dud due to its lack of wit, charm and convincing sentiment. Millions love this slop but I can’t figure out why.

Note that both US and UK versions of Actually exist and the Blu-ray provides the US edition. The two appear to differ solely via a couple minor musical choices so don’t expect any story/character variations.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B+

Love Actually appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This turned into a satisfying presentation.

Sharpness worked fine. Some mild softness crept in at times, but the majority of the film appeared pretty accurate and well-defined.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Source flaws were absent, and the movie came with a good layer of grain.

In terms of palette, Actually opted for a fairly amber palette, with some blue/teal as well. The hues seemed well-rendered within its visual choices.

Blacks seemed deep and dark, while shadows showed good smoothness and clarity. No one will use this as a demo image, but it represented the source well.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Actually lacked a ton of ambition. The soundfield focused on music and ambience, though it opened up on occasion, mainly in terms of party of street settings. Nothing especially memorable occurred, though.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music offered good clarity and range, and effects worked well enough.

They didn’t have much to do, but they appeared reasonably accurate. All of this ended up as a perfectly satisfactory soundtrack for this sort of movie.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the movie’s Blu-ray version? The Atmos audio expanded sonic horizons a smidgen, but given the nature of the story, it didn’t add much.

Visuals became a different matter, as the 4K appeared better defined, more vivid and more film-like than its predecessor. The Blu-ray suffered from copious grain reduction and other issues, so the 4K turned into a solid upgrade.

When we head to extras, we begin with an audio commentary from writer/director Richard Curtis and actors Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy and Thomas Sangster. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music and costumes, cut scenes, and related thoughts.

At worst, this remains an amusing commentary, mainly because of the “insults” cast between Curtis and Grant. Those alone make this enjoyable.

The commentary lacks tremendous informational value beyond the laughs, but we do learn a reasonable amount about the film. Don’t expect a slew of insights, but the track works anyway.

Including introductions from Curtis, 10 Deleted Scenes span a total of 37 minutes, 16 seconds. Curtis tells us a little about the segments and why they didn’t make the cut.

As for the segments themselves, the longest involve some of the younger characters. In one, Daniel gets Sam to take the “blame” when he can’t get rid of porn sites on his computer, and in the other, we see more of Karen’s surly son Bernard. These seem superfluous and slow down an already murky narrative.

Another branches out to show the personal lives of the school headmistress who disciplines Bernard. That feels out of nowhere and an odd curveball.

The rest give us fairly minor moments, with some trims and a few character extensions. None of these feel especially useful, as they fail to expand the thin roles – and two snippets in Africa come across as bizarre and condescending.

The Music of Love Actually offers a collection of separate clips that occupy a total of 21 minutes, six seconds. In these, we get more intros from Curtis, as he tells us about the songs he selected for the movie.

We then see the scenes that use the tunes. Curtis’s notes offer value, but the musical segments feel redundant since we already watched the movie.

With The Storytellers, we find a nine-minute, 58-second featurette. It involves Curtis, producers Duncan Kenworthy and Tim Bevan, and actors Colin Firth, Lucia Moniz, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Martine McCutcheon, Hugh Grant, Rodrigo Santoro, Laura Linney, Alan Rickman, and Emma Thompson.

We learn about the project’s roots and influences as well as characters and cast. Some fluff emerges but we get some fun glimpses of inspirations.

Two Music Videos follow, as we get reels for Kelly Clarkson’s “The Trouble With Love Is” and Billy Mack’s “Christmas Is All Around”. The former mixes lip-synch shots of Clarkson with movie clips and shots of some young people who struggle due to romantic issues. It becomes a totally blah video.

As for “Around”, it features Bill Nighy in character and shows the Robert Palmer-style video also briefly viewed in the movie. Totally tongue in cheek, it amuses to a modest degree.

Shot for the movie’s 20th anniversary, the 4K adds The Making of Love Actually spans 29 minutes, 32 seconds. It offers info from Curtis, Nighy, Bevan, Sangster, Kenworthy, Moniz, Santoro, casting director Fiona Weir, production designer Jim Clay, 1st AD Chris Newman, editor Nick Moore, cinematographer Michael Coulter, composer Craig Armstrong, and actor Abdul Sallis.

The program covers the movie’s origins and development, Curtis’s move to the director’s chair, cast and performances, sets/locations, photography, music, editing, and the film’s legacy. Some of this repeats from elsewhere, but “Making” delivers a nice overview with enough fresh material to merit a look.

The set includes a Blu-ray copy of Actually. It provides the same extras as the 4K except for the new “Making of” program.

20 years after its release, Love Actually enjoys a status as a form of Christmas classic. Despite a lot of talent involved, I fail to find much charm from this scattered and sappy anthology. The 4K UHD comes with good visuals, adequate audio and a reasonable mix of bonus materials. Chalk up this film as a major disappointment.

To rate this film visit the prior review of LOVE ACTUALLY

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main