[MOVIE REVIEW]‘Love’ endures, despite the cut-happy censors

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[MOVIE REVIEW]‘Love’ endures, despite the cut-happy censors

I was in New York City in November, a place where I wouldn’t normally waste time watching movies. For “Love Actually,” however, I could make an exception. For starters, it’s a Hugh Grant movie. And it’s directed by Richard Curtis, the man who wrote the screenplays for “Notting Hill” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”
The movie, filled with a myriad of intertwined love stories, has a simple point, and Grant’s character, the British Prime Minister, declares it clearly at the very beginning: “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that love actually is all around.” The rest of the movie is spent trying to prove that old dictum.
The protagonists are a mixed bunch. There are married couples, a stepfather and a stepson, a boyfriend and a girlfriend, friends, a brother and a sister.
The cast is as you would expect from Mr. Curtis. Old stalwarts like Emma Thompson, Colin Firth and Liam Neeson are cast alongside relative newcomers like Keira Knightley and Martine McCutcheon. Knightley, touted by some as the “next big thing,” does as an admirable job, but it’s McCutcheon, cast as the Prime Minister’s tea lady, who steals the show.
The movie doesn’t merely portray love as a wonderful, sweet and passionate experience; it also shows the painful, unreciprocated and heartbreaking side of it, albeit briefly.
The standout couple for me was John and Judy (Martin Freeman and Joanna Page), who work as “stand-ins” on pornographic movie sets. They fall in love while posing naked in intimate positions amid production crews and stage lights. Given this, the fact that they fall in love through conversation is all the more unusual.
When “Love Actually” finally came to Seoul, I went to see it again with my friends. Surprise! My favorite couple was entirely cut out of the movie. They just disappeared, and the cutting was so perfect that I waited an eternity for them to appear on the screen, until I realized that their characters had not gotten past the Korean censors. Their story was obviously considered too risque for a teenage Korean audience. The absence of the couple hindered the overall story, although my friends, none the wiser, all loved it.
There is a rushed feel to the movie that is annoying, however, as if Curtis was simply trying to tell too many stories. The ending is annoyingly predictable, and the stop-start nature of the film is frustrating; just as you are getting into one storyline, that couple disappears, only to reappear without warning 30 minutes later.
The stories eventually all come together, with all the lovers reuniting with their loved ones at London’s Heathrow Airport. The ending is predicatably saccharine, and if Curtis’ aim was to leave movie goers with a warm Christmasy glow, he succeeded.

“Love Actually”
Romantic comedy / English
129 minutes
Now playing

by Ser Myo-ja
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