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Britain / Films / Love Actually
The film "Love Actually"
  Actors / actresses
  British politics
  Other Richard Curtis films
  Further information
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The film "Love Actually" is a romantic comedy set in contemporary London.
It is a fun "feel-good" film. There is some slang, nudity and sexual references in the film, so don't watch it if these offend you.
In the UK, the general release date was Friday 21st November 2003: the film's attendances over the first three days were the highest ever for a British romantic comedy.

Love Actually (book: screenplay with photos)
Author: Richard Curtis
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Date: November 2003
Love Actually (DVD)
Studio: Universal Pictures Video
Date: March 2004

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The film starts a month before Christmas and follows the love lives of a range of different people over the next four weeks. Some of the main relationships are:
- an old pop star (Billy: Bill Nighy), who has a love/hate relationship with his manager (Joe: Gregor Fisher)
- a gallery owner (Mark: Andrew Lincoln) who is attracted to someone who just got married (Juliet: Kiera Knightley)
- the British Prime Minister (David: Hugh Grant), who is attracted to his secretary (Natalie: Martine McCutcheon)
- the Prime Minister's sister (Karen: Emma Thompson), whose husband (Harry: Alan Rickman) is a boss starting an affair with his secretary (Mia: Heke Makatsch)
- an American lady (Sarah: Laura Linney) who works for Harry and is attracted to the chief designer at the company (Karl: Rodrigo Santoro)
- a father (Daniel: Liam Neeson) whose wife has just died and later decides he needs a new partner (preferably a beautiful model like Claudia Schiffer)
- Daniel's stepson (Sam: Thomas Sangster), who has a crush on an American girl at his school (Joanna)
- a writer (Jamie: Colin Firth) whose original partner is having an affair with his brother: he goes on to fall in love with his Portuguese cleaner (Aurelia: Lucia Moniz)
- an actor (John/Jack: Martin Freeman) and actress (Judy: Joanna Page) who are taking part in a sex film
- a sandwich delivery man (Colin: Kris Marshall) who is unsuccessful with women in Britain and wants to go to America to get a girlfriend

Each of the characters uses Christmas as a time to express feelings which they had been keeping secret.
Although it might not be obvious at first, it seems that love actually is all around ...

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Some other roles which have been played by some of the British actors or actresses in this film are:

Hugh Grant plays the British Prime Minister. He also starred in three of Richard Curtis' other films ("Four Weddings and a Funeral", "Notting Hill" and "Bridget Jones's Diary"), as well as in "About A Boy". For a list of his performances, see:

Colin Firth plays the writer. He played Mark D'Arcy in "Bridget Jones's Diary", and Darcy in the television version of Jane Austen's book "Pride and Prejudice". He was also in the recent film version of "The Importance of Being Earnest". For a list of his performances, see:

Rowan Atkinson plays a sales assistant in a jewellery shop. He is a popular British comedian who is well-known for his characters Mr Bean and Blackadder and recently starred in the film "Johnny English" (for more details, see: Britain/Films/English).

Martine McCutcheon is best known in the UK for playing the character Tiffany in the television soap opera EastEnders. After leaving this, she launched a singing career (one of her most popular songs is called "Perfect Moment") and played the character Eliza Doolittle in a production of the musical "My Fair Lady".

Emma Thompson has had many film roles, one of the most famous of which was in "Sense and Sensibility". She will also appear in the third Harry Potter film "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban". For a list of her performances, see:

Alan Rickman plays Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films. He was in "Sense and Sensibility" with Emma Thompson. He played the Sheriff of Nottingham in "Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves". For a list of his other performances, see:

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You should be able to enjoy this film if you are a non-native English speaker. Most of the accents are clear, the stories can be followed quite easily, and there is plenty of music. There is however quite a lot of slang, and you may find the jokes difficult to understand.

Here is some of the vocabulary which will help you to understand, in the order in which it first appears in the film (click on a link to see definitions from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary):

gloomy (depressed); the Twin Towers (the World Trade Centre); maestro; nativity play (it is traditional for primary school children to perform a play based on the story of the birth of Jesus Christ); lobster; stag night; kiddo (slang way of referring to a child); nappies (American English: diapers); the lady of the house; dodgy; stuck up; gridlock; over my dead body; enigmatic; wrinkled; Watford (a large town north of London); smug; bird (slang way of referring to an attractive woman); crassness; dark horse; Christmas number one (the record which sells most copies in the week before Christmas Day); petulant; the Treasury; get a grip; Wisconsin (state in the US); mistletoe (it is a Christmas tradition to kiss underneath this plant); heroin; veins; stepfather (stepdad is also used); sissy; fire away (when you say this, you are inviting someone to start asking you questions); elitist; Wandsworth (an area of London); illegitimate; I'm well shot of him; SAS (the Special Armed Services - top soldiers in the British army who are used in some of the most dangerous situations); Chancellor of the Exchequor; papier mâché; eels; chubby (a slightly more polite way of saying that someone is quite fat); constitution; Munchies (a sweet); bingo; self-preservation; redistribute (here used to mean "send to work in another department"); Kate and Leo (Kate Winslett and Leonardo Dicaprio, stars of the film Titanic); brandy; Meatloaf (a large male pop singer); Ringo Starr (the drummer in the Beatles); a Bond girl (an attractive woman who stars in a James Bond film); stellar; Parky (Michael Parkinson, a popular British chat-show host); Blue (a popular British male pop group); stark naked (wearing no clothes); to flirt; to tug (pull); Jon Bon Jovi (an American rock singer); stationery; in a flash (quickly); prontissimo (Italian for "very quickly"); cinnamon; a final flourish; a sprig of holly; manger (according to the story of Christmas, Jesus Christ was born in a manger); grumpy; Budweiser (an American beer); Basildon (a town in Kent); a done deal; Elton John (a popular British singer); kebabs; carol singers; epiphany; Chubbs (an invented nickname for someone who is overweight, based on the word chubby); moron; Plumpy (an invented nickname for someone who is overweight, based on the word plump); octopus; Dunkin Donut (an American doughnut chain of shops); Prince William (the eldest son of Prince Charles, the Queen's eldest son)

In several parts of the film, differences between British English and American English are highlighted. For example, Americans often call someone they find attractive "cute" or might think the British accent is "cute", but British people usually only use the word "cute" for a baby or young child.

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Filming took place mainly in London (there are also some scenes in south France, in the area called Provence).

How many of these well-known London places can you spot while you watch the film?

- Heathrow Airport (the busiest airport in the UK), and Gatwick Airport (the second busiest)
- 10 Downing Street (the place where the British Prime Minister lives)
- Trafalgar Square (including Nelson's Column; a Norwegian Christmas tree is put up there each year - see: Ideas/Events/December)
- the National Gallery (a famous art gallery in front of Trafalgar Square)
- Somerset House (the water fountains are replaced by an ice rink for skaters each winter)
- the Millennium Bridge (a modern footbridge across the Thames, leading to St Paul's Cathedral)
- the South Bank: including Gabriel's Wharf, Oxo Tower Wharf, the Tate Modern and City Hall
- Albert Bridge (a bridge across the River Thames, between Battersea Park and Chelsea)
- Swiss Re building (a large new glass building in the financial district, sometimes called "the guerkin")
- Marble Arch
- Regent Street (the Christmas lights are turned on here every November; see: Ideas/Album/ChristmasLights), including Hamleys toy shop
- Selfridges (a large department store on Oxford Street) and St Christopher's Place (just north of Oxford Street)
- Whiteleys Shopping Centre (in west London, near Notting Hill)

Somerset House ice rink

The Millennium Bridge

St Paul's Cathedral

Norwegian Christmas tree, Trafalgar Square

Nelson's Column

Regent Street Christmas Lights

St Christopher's Place

Selfridges, Oxford Street

Marble Arch

Swiss Re Building

10 Downing Street

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The following songs are included on the soundtrack album:

1. Jump (for my Love) - Girls Aloud
2. Too Lost In You - Sugababes (soundtrack version)
3. The Trouble With Love Is - Kelly Clarkson
4. Here With Me - Dido
5. Christmas Is All Around - Billy Mack
6. Turn Me On - Norah Jones
7. Songbird - Eva Cassidy
8. Sweetest Goodbye - Maroon 5
9. Wherever You Will Go - The Calling
10. I'll See It Through - Texas
11. Both Sides Now - Joni Mitchell
12. White Christmas - Otis Redding
13. Take Me As I Am - Sharissa
14. All I Want For Christmas Is You - Olivia Olson
15. God Only Knows - the Beach Boys
16. All You Need Is Love - Lynden David Hall
17. Sometimes - Gabrielle
18. Glasgow Love Theme - Craig Armstrong
19. PM's Love Theme - Craig Armstrong
20. Portuguese Love Theme - Craig Armstrong

The original version of All You Need Is Love was by the Beatles (for more information about British music, see: Britain/Music.
Christmas Is All Around is a comic version of the song Love Is All Around (written by Reg Presley of the Troggs; Wet Wet Wet did a well-known cover version). This is a comparison of the words of the first verse:

Love Is All Around Christmas Is All Around
I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
The love that's all around me
And so the feeling grows
It's written on the wind
It's everywhere I go
So if you really love me
Come on and let it show
I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
Christmas is all around me
And so the feeling grows
It's written in the wind
It's everywhere I go
So if you really love Christmas
Come on and let it snow

Songs you can hear during the film which are not on the soundtrack album include:
Bye Bye Baby - Bay City Rollers
Puppy Love - Donny and Marie Osmond
The theme from the film "Titanic"

The Christmas carols which are introduced in the film are:
Silent Night
Good King Wencelas
Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket

Love Actually [soundtrack] (CD)
Label: Island
Date: 10 November, 2003

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Some basic facts which will help you to understand some of the political references in the film:

- The British Prime Minister lives (together with his/her family) at 10 Downing Street
- The current Prime Minister (in 2003) is Tony Blair, who has a wife and children
- Tony Blair's wife had a baby in May 2000 (this is why there is a reference to nappies in the film)
- A famous previous Prime Minister was Margaret Thatcher (you can see a portrait of her in the film)
- The government department which deals with financial subjects is called the Treasury
- The head of the Treasury is called the Chancellor of the Exchequor
- The Cabinet refers to the top group of politicians in the government, who meet to make important policy decisions
- Since the Second World War Britain and the US have worked closely together; Winston Churchill called this the special relationship

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Richard Curtis also wrote the screenplays for these films (Love Actually is the first film which he has also directed):
1989 - The Tall Guy
1994 - Four Weddings and a Funeral
1997 - Bean
1999 - Notting Hill
2001 - Bridget Jones's Diary

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
Notting Hill
Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)

Romantic comedy

Romantic comedy

Romantic comedy
DVD; Video; Book
DVD; Video; Video(wide); Book; Music CD ; Related book
DVD; Video; Book; Music CD; Audio book: CD / Tape

He has also been involved in several TV series starring Rowan Atkinson's characters Mr Bean and Blackadder (for more about Rowan Atkinson, see: Britain/Films/English).

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A "movie map" showing London locations from Love Actually can be downloaded from the Visit London website:

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British films: Britain/Films
The film Johnny English (with Rowan Atkinson): Britain/Films/English
British music: Britain/Music

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