Love Actually begins and ends in an airport, which is a powerful setting for a movie released one year after 9/11. It follows the intersecting lives of ten people beginning five weeks before Christmas and ending on Christmas Day. It features a cast of extremely talented actors – such heavy hitters as Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kiera Knightley, Martin Freeman, and Andrew Lincoln. This powerful ensemble portrays lives that are all loosely related (Liam Neeson is a friend of Emma Thompson, who is the sister to Hugh Grant and the wife of Alan Rickman, whose business stages a Christmas party run by Andrew Lincoln’s character – you get the picture).
All these characters are going through challenges related to love – falling in love, unrequited love, infidelity, or mourning love’s loss. These relationships are seamlessly woven together, as each story line progresses while the Christmas season builds to a climax on Christmas Day. The soundtrack is a powerful part of the narrative, framing transitions from mood to mood within the stories and providing an emotional backdrop to the storytelling
There is so much art and skill in the way these stories are told, and each story is compelling in its own right. Writer and director Richard Curtis said in interview that he had more stories than he could fit in the film, and he clearly has chosen the best of them to craft this movie. The fact that not all the stories have happy endings underscores the power of the storytelling.
P.S. If you get the DVD version, I highly recommend you watch all the deleted scenes. They were cut from the film to make its length more manageable, but add great depth to the story.