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God only knows what I'd be without you.

London, England, and it's the run up to Christmas, and we are in the company of a number of couples dealing with the joys and problems that love can bring.

We open with a narration from Hugh Grant who tells us that when he is troubled by the hate in the world, he thinks of the arrivals area of Heathrow airport. A place where loved ones greet returning loved ones, a place that indeed showcases a strand of love in its joyous form. He further ventures that when the aeroplanes hit the twin towers on 9/11, as far as he knows, all those phone calls from those sadly involved were messages of love, not hate. Pertinent musings that although somewhat sombre for an opening, sets it up nicely for what Richard Curtis (writer and director) wants to say.

A roll call of fine British and Irish actors, and American Laura Linney, lend their considerable talents to Curtis' ensemble piece. The structure is surprisingly simple considering the number of stories being woven together, the result being that there is sure to be a story in there to either love, or, yes, even hate. Is it sentimental? Of course. Is it as stuffed as a turkey on Xmas day? Naturally. Does it stretch credibility in some strands? For sure. But only the coldest of hearts could truly decry that Love Actually is all around. Very often it's funny too. Curtis, following on from writing credits such as Four Weddings And A Funeral, continues to show himself to be a very fine writer of comedy. None more so than with Bill Nighy's past his sell by date pop star, Billy Mack. There's something for everyone in here, indeed there's likely to be something that many can associate with.

It's a lovely affecting film that should hopefully perk up those that get blue around the holiday season. With perceptive writing, some excellent acting (Nighy, Emma Thomson, Colin Firth et al) and a soundtrack of some worth, Love Actually is a winner. 8/10

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