Movie Review

LOVE ACTUALLY

MPAA Rating: R for sexuality, nudity and language

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adult
Genre:
Comedy and Romance

Starring: Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney, Colin Firth | Directed by: Richard Curtis | Produced by: Duncan Kenworthy, Eric Fellner, Tim Bevan | Distributor: Universal Pictures

Copyright, Universal Pictures
 

Several times, a man and woman are depicted rehearsing a porn scene (including full nudity, except the genitals are not shown). Intercourse is graphically simulated several times, plus simulated oral sex. Another scene implies group sex. A nude man covers his crotch with a guitar. This film contains at least 12 “f” words, plus vulgar words and phrases. Christ’s and God’s name are profanely used several times. There is much crude dialogue related to sex.

Does this comedy make a mockery of what actual love is all about? The Bible says that true “love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (see I Corinthians 13). This witty, but sin-filled and often vulgar film promotes “love” that lacks morals, respect, and purity.

Year of Release—2003


Viewer Comments
Negative—I viewed this movie last night and, as a Christian, was completely embarrassed throughout the movie. I spent more time looking down at the ground and with my eyes closed. This movie is complete filth. I really don’t see the difference between this movie and a porno. I would not recommend this to anyone. This movie turned marriage into a joke. People were having affairs and sex was rampant throughout the movie. The movie portrayed sex as okay before marriage. Everything in the movie seemed to come back to the same topic. Sex. It was talked about, joked about, and shown. Very Explicit nude scenes—not just one scene, but many throughout where a guy and girl are filming a porno and are completely naked, going through the different motions. Very crude. I was shocked that this movie was so graphic. My best advice—stay away.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
—Angela Erickson, age 24
Negative—Love Actually is not talking about love but about sexual attraction. It is too bad that these very talented actors demeaned themselves with this junk. I could not find anything that resembled love, i.e., respect for another human being.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
—Chris, age 57
Negative—I was extremely let down by this movie. All-out pornography has made its move in to the mainstream market in this movie. Positive: One man admits love for a girl not expecting anything in return. Negative: The sad morals of American society/government as of late is somewhat truly depicted. Positive: Whereas the British PM objects to mixing politics and lust. Negative: Sex scenes in context of a pornographic film-shoot, in context of a first night of a couple talking/dancing together, and in context of a wish to simply get sex with a beautiful girl/s. Truly, I was hopeful for a good movie because the many from cast have a pretty good reputation in my mind, but this film is an accurate portrayal of the direction American film is moving; British and Canadian audiences, in comparison, already are there.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
—Sarah Matz, age 19
Negative—I just watched “Love Actually” in Singapore, so due to the “strict” censorship a lot was cut out, there was no porn scene at all, which has been mentioned in a lot of the reviews. However, I still hated it. I found it really sad because it shows a world desperate for God. It reminded me how awful life without God is (its only been 15 months!) To these people romantic love is everything, as is being valued and desired. The end of a relationship really is the end of everything for these people. Romantic love is where these people put their everything, it is their life’s goal and it makes them miserable. It reminds me so much of myself before I was a Christian. Romantic love was my one goal in life… to meet the man of my dreams and then everything would be perfect. It never worked out that way. After going from broken relationship to broken relationship, being used and then rejected, desperate for love and security and never finding it, I grew sad and desperate. There must be more to life! Why do I feel so empty inside and nothing satisfies it? The more I tried to fill the emptiness the bigger the emptiness seems to get. Well, that all changed when I became a Christian. I found the love of my life—God—the lover of my soul. I’m single at the moment and happy, complete and in love with God, becoming more and more in awe of the love he has for me. I also found the language offensive, I hate hearing the Lord’s name used in vain more than anything. The film was funny in some areas but it was not edifying or uplifting.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/4]
—Lizzie, age 21
Negative—Avoid this one folks. Yes, it has some very sweet moments. But that doesn’t make up for the soft porn scenes and all the immoral talk and actions. The love in this movie is actually just romantic infatuation.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/3]
—Kevin, age 32
Positive—This film is rated R, and rightfully so. Anyone who is offended by sexual content and humor should stay away. (Sexual humor is used in this movie, but I wouldn’t say it is crude humor.) The amazing cast and fascinating interweaving of stories is what makes Love Actually worth seeing. Its objectionable content is outweighed by the messages the film sends. These messages include one about the many natures of love. For people who see this as only about sexual attraction, I’m not sure if they really watched the movie, because there were numerous storylines about people who were not in sexual relationships but still loved one another. There was a father and his stepson, two brothers and sisters, a boss and his employee, friends. The married couple which is being rocked by potential infidelity is a beautiful storyline that shows the danger of even thinking about being unfaithful to one’s spouse. Emma Thompson’s performance is simply amazing, and I loved the human nature added to Alan Rickman’s character.

I wrote a long review of this movie for my university newspaper, recommending it strongly for anyone old enough to handle the questionable and indeed objectionable content. Look past the nudity on the screen and realize what the scenes are saying about sexuality—without love, it is nothing. It is as absurd as the two porn stand-ins going through the motions while talking about the weather. And I can’t resist commenting on one more thing—Colin Firth’s character Jamie is simply wonderful, and I would say that it is the most touching story in the film. His love for his housekeeper is a beautiful example of love denying reason. And I think the idea of love denying reason is a very Christian thing.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/4]
—Liz, age 21
Negative—I was very disappointed in this movie. What I expected was a cute Hugh Grant film, instead I was embarrassed with the nudity and the porn slant. I don’t even understand why that was put in in the first place. I am so tired of gratuous movies. I would have bought the film if it would have been descent.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
—Carrie, age 36
Positive—…In a world where flirting is harmless fun, seeing the consequences of a mere wandering eye on a relationship portrayed in a movie is refreshing…
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Matt, age 25
Negative—I, unfortunately, did not read the reviews on this site, and purchased this video. What a mistake! It had a cute story line that you had to find through all the porn and filthy language. My mother and I watched it last night, and it’s getting trashed today. I was very disappointed in the content of this film. It is very graphic in the sexual content and I can’t believe it only received an “R” rating. The rock star wasn’t funny just profane. This film is greatly lacking and as a Christian, I’m ashamed that I purchased it. My advise… don’t watch it.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/2]
—Julie, age 41
Positive—…definitely a movie intended for a mature viewing audience, as there are, as people have mentioned, several clips throughout that depict stand-ins for a movie (NOT a Porn flick. It is very common for directors to use stand-ins to measure lighting and angles in all scenes, not merely sex scenes). With that said, I enjoyed Love Actually’s various forms of love: first love, (loss of) true love, brotherly love, hidden love, forbidden love, long-term love, love crossing all boundaries (cultural and language), lustful love, self-sacrificing love, and love at first sight. I admit I was glad that homosexual love was left out, and I did not agree with forbidden love, as one of the characters is tempted to have an affair. But even those scenes, the agony of adultery is so poignant, Emma Thompson was brilliant. Bill Nighy also shares some pretty funny, albeit a little crass, bits on the loneliness of fame. An aged superstar shares the emptiness of wealth and that it’s truly the people that stick with you through the crummy times that display what love is all about. If you are an objective person, I say go see it and take from it the good. Think of how many non-believers out there who will have seen this most likely and think of how you can bring up the fact that Jesus is the only True Love that we can ever have, with a Love that covers sin. If you are a person easily offended than I do not recommend watching it.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/4]
—Elizabeth, age 25
Positive—I agree with many of the positive viewers on this. If you can handle the sexuality in the movie go see it. I left the movie and told my husband as we went to the car that it was amazing. I said that it truly showed what love is. Yes, there was the one story-line of porn that I don’t agree with and wish had been left out but throughout the entire movie not one person slept with another. And you knew this in the way the film was done. …There is only one time that a non-married couple heads to bed and they don’t get anywhere. She stops him and it is obvious.
My Ratings: [Average/4]
—Michelle, age 26
Negative—I found this film highly offensive to say the least. Being a Christian, I felt that it would be denying the will of God to remain in that theater, so I just walked out. Even within the first ten minutes of the film, extreme profanity and sex scenes were rampant. What I saw of the film depicted sex as “just a game”—something to be taken lightly; nothing special. It was a total waste of time and surely blasphemed the name of God.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive/3]
—Elise, age 23
Positive—Unabashedly and bravely sentimental, yet at times terribly poignant and heartbreaking, Love Actually is a wonderful heartwarming Christmas gift. Several of stories crumble around the edges and hobble over the finish line rather than break through like champions. Yet you root for them all none the less. And the overall package is decidedly endearing and could end up being a perennial holiday favorite.

What makes the film splendid and charming is that so much of it is about the awkwardness and longing of coming together. Dealing with self doubt and internal criticism the painful wanting but holding back. Making mistakes. The nobility and treachery of the loving heart. The unexpected and serendipitous joy of realizing you have found that someone special and taking the risk to say yes to that happiness and chancing the pain of heartache. These are things all people have felt can relate to in their relationships and will identify with in the film.

This is an “R” rated film particularly for an extended storyline with a couple that meet while acting as lighting stand-ins for a soft porn film. There is nudity and simulated rehearsal of sex which sadly took away any possibility of this film being watchable by the kids or watching it with Mom Dad and the grandparents since it would make for awkward moments. The content here is decidedly objectionable for a lot of Christians.

However, the story is cute and the couple gets turned on to one another not by the sex acts. The job is entirely boring to them. Because they are merely going through the motions and are bored they have time to talk back and forth about their lives. They get to know one anothers the way people do and should. The contrast and humor is that it is set in this bizarre backdrop.

The overall message about relationships being sent is probably a fairly positive one. The act of sex is relatively boring compared to getting to know one another as people. The more objectionable message might be in the Liam Neeson story thread. Neeson plays a widower raising his son on his own. He has become one of these “pal” dads. He is a little casual relating about his own sexual life and desires to bond with his son who is just beginning to have an interest in a particular girl at school. You can tell he is going to become the sort of chicken Dad who hands out the condom and says “be careful” rather than equip his son with the tools he needs to have a healthy relationship. Also there is a trivial storyline about a college guy who is having no luck getting into a shallow relationship with the local girls and makes a hail Mary play running America to America to try his luck there with some spectacular success.

Though none are decidedly Christian in nature.The rest of the stories shouldn’t pose any significant challenges morally. One of the excellent stories is a painful lesson about the cost infidelity because the personal hurt and loss is felt deeply on all sides. The values of love,family, sacrifice, giving, and risking for others are very human and a part of the daily life of a Christian. So there is naturally something tender and human there that makes for a warm heart by the film’s end. Not a perfect film but one that is very easy to forgive and have affection for. “Love Actually is all around” and it is tangible here.

I have been campaigning on Amazon to have the studio release a special DVD edition packaged separately or together with a PG-13 version sans the actor couple. Its just so regretable that such an otherwise charming delightful film can’t be shared with the family around the holidays because of this nice but entirely disposable storyline. I have a friend that saw “Love Actually” on a plane without this story thread and said it didn’t detract from the pleasure of the film at all.
My Ratings: [Average/5]
—Robin McDonald, age 42
Positive—…I enjoyed the movie somewhat, and there were some romantic parts. There was a scene I was uncomfortable with. However, it’s a very Christmas and love focused movie. I think it could have been better. Honestly, I didn’t feel that it had a strong point to it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—GK, age 18
Positive—Love Actually… is actually a worthy movie. This has to be one of the wittiest movies written and directed in some time. Reviews from most critics were rather harsh but it is what it is—a movie unabashedly about love or modern love, at least in England—and what’s wrong with that? We are given a spectrum of vignettes portraying the subject through the world of politics and work, a father and son, first loves, marriage, language barriers, secret loves, temptations, and of course rock n’ roll. Love Actually plays like a modern translation of biblical wisdom literature that deals in honest truth about the world we live in.

The setting takes place in London, England around the lives of a dozen individuals. Making his directorial debut, writer Richard Curtis (“Four Weddings and a Funeral”, “Notting Hill”) is able to capture some stunning visuals. There are many surprises in the cast but overall an array of delightful performances. Among them, Liam Neeson tries to connect with his son played by Thomas Sangster who absolutely steals the show and many hearts to follow. Hugh Grant plays his usual stammering self but here is alarmingly given the power of Prime Minister. Other well known cast members include Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney, Colin Firth and newcomer Keira Knightley.

The subject of love is clearly esteemed as ultimate right from the beginning of the film. It’s all around. The film displays true humanity in their dealings with love against the backdrop of The Beetles “All you need is love” and Christmas. Clearly there is no vision of God. As we know, true biblical love is lost in this world and it is very evident in the characters’ relationships and even further emphasized by a rather strange nativity scene in a school play. The love that the viewer is given to consider and further examine is at times heartbreaking, exciting, inexplicable, awkward, unwelcome, and of course about making tough choices. Loveactually also depicts its perversion, exploitation and betrayal but not in a dark manner taking away from the wit of this film. Further on that note, there are several crude sexual scenes and references particularly when two individuals meet as they work together as stand-ins for an adult film. Obscenities are also considered commonplace. This is not a family movie and probably should not be taken solely as a holiday romance.

Interestingly, there is a commentary of things American. Being that this is a British film it can be considered politely direct or simply a show in jest of their opinions about American love and life but working with the rhythm of the portrayals throughout the film should cause us to pause and ponder. In the end, love triumphs. Good or bad, there is an element of truth to each portion presented on the screen. Every character and detail has a story to tell. We are given an honest look of the world, of love and how people deal in some sense without a vision of God.

There is a powerful and redemptive moment in the movie when one of the characters discovers that their love is betrayed. Whether the director was intentional or not the scene carries a strong proverbial overtone about foolishness. To betray love is foolishness and makes a fool of those who are committed to love. This is just an example that although God is not clearly visible, mentioned, or feared his wisdom beckons. “Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares…” (Pr 1:20)

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this film for its wit and the glimpses we get into several weeks of the charcter’s lives. The viewer is left wanting to see how everything plays out but like life we will never really know. Loveactually would be great to watch this with some friends and later discuss the details at length of how they or their friends may experience some of the aspects of love portrayed.
My Ratings: [Average/5]
—Laurence Tom, age 28
Movie Critics
…Raunch Actually… Abhorrent …Strong pagan worldview… filled with graphic nudity and simulated sex and foul language. Although some of the stories are quite sweet and touching, the overall base content of LOVE ACTUALLY ruins the message and the movie.
—Jan Stallones, Movieguide
…a sleazy, amoral mess masquerading as holiday romance… Sentimental sludge with a saccharine coating of carnality, as if the filmmakers-afraid their mawkish melodrama might show too much-spliced nudity and sex throughout to trick critics into calling it edgy and artsy…
—Steven Isaac, Plugged In
…Lust Actually…
—Michael Elliott, Movie Parables
…more like a record label’s greatest-hits compilation or a “very special” sitcom clip-reel show than an actual movie…
—A.O. Scott, New York Times
…abandons any pretext of sophistication for gloppy sentimentality, sugary pop songs and bawdy humor…
—Carla Meyer, San Francisco Chronicle