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The One-Line Summary: Whenever David (Hugh Grant) feels down, he thinks of Heathrow Airport and the arrival of passengers, welcomed by families and friends with unconditional love, leading to a series of stories set in London, five weeks before Christmas, where love and heartbreak come together in a loosely woven tapestry that details these relationships as the holiday approaches.
The Two-Line Blurb: Directed by Richard Curtis, Love Actually is considered by many to be a modern Christmas classic, and it’s admittedly hard to resist the near immeasurable charm of the cast as they shine on screen, even though there are far too many of them and the plots of most are unabashedly manipulative. The issue is its overzealous desire to try and tick off every conceivable romantic movie cliche on the long list, leaving audiences dizzy with rapid shifts from couple to couple, despite how fun it is to see these great actors romp their way through the feel-good script on their way to the predictably emotional, uplifting end.
The Three-Line Set-up: This moment is all about the gesture, and begins with Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Juliet (Keira Knightley), who are married in a beautiful ceremony hosted and videotaped by Peter’s Best Man, Mark (Andrew Lincoln) who both Peter and Juliet think is not fond of the new bride. This is compounded by his avoidance of them and refusal to show the wedding tape, so Juliet decides to visit him and extend an olive branch in hopes of gaining his trust. He is clearly uncomfortable with her around and when she discovers the tape and plays it in front of him, things take a decidedly different twist when the camera reveals Mark’s obvious admiration and longing for Juliet, the lens focused solely on her and her alone.
The Four-Line Moment: His true feelings out in the open, he confesses that he acts off-putting in self-defense, running out of the room and leaving her behind until on Christmas Eve, he shows up at Peter and Juliet’s door with a small boom box and a stack of large handwritten cue cards. Fortunately, only Juliet answers, and using the cards, he instructs her to convince Peter that there are Christmas carolers outside, which he knows Peter will ignore, allowing him to silently flip the cards, one by one with each one explaining, without hope or agenda, just because it’s Christmas, that he thinks she is perfect, and that his wasted heart will love her forever. He then wishes her a Merry Christmas, gathers his cards and radio and walks away before she chases after him and gives him one kiss before returning to her husband. “Enough,” he says and decides right then to move on with his life in a powerful moment of emotional vulnerability and more importantly, personal growth, marking the highlight of the film and perhaps the most honest moment in the script.
The Five-Word Review: Gleefully, unapologetically sentimental romantic puff.