The 2003 romantic comedy, written and directed by Richard Curtis, features an ensemble cast of iconic pros – Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Kiera Nightley, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Billy Bob Thornton – whose lives criss-cross in all manner of ways. There’s at least a half-dozen or so story lines that play out during the movie, focusing on the joy, pain and messy madness of love.
Of the half-dozen or so tales that play out during the movie, the one that’s lingering about in my noggin today is the laugh-out-loud funny connection between Jamie and Aurélia (Colin Firth and Lucia Moniz). They meet when Jamie escapes to his cottage in France to work on a novel and lick his wounds after being betrayed by his girlfriend. He meets and pretty quickly falls for Aurélia, his Portuguese housekeeper. Jamie speaks no Portuguese and Aurélia speaks no English. Hijinks ensue!
Jamie makes his way to Portugal on Christmas Eve to ask Aurélia to marry him, a hilarious, joyful bit of filmmaking. The dialogue is sharp and witty and the director manages to add an extra layer of energy by cutting back and forth between this story line and another involving two kids and first love. Trust me, it works!
Starring right along with the great script and wonderful acting is the city of London, all gussied up and twinkling for the holidays. And let’s not forget that killer soundtrack I mentioned earlier, a euphonic blend of pop hits and memorable classics. Highlights include Kelly Clarkson and “The Trouble with Love”, Norah Jones and “Turn Me On”, “Jump (for my love)” by the Pointer Sisters and Joni Mitchell doing “Both Sides Now”. Don’t look now, but I think you’re tapping your tootsies.
Push aside the feel-good vibe of the movie and there’s a little message all wrapped up at the end. The last scene returns to the opening of the movie at Heathrow, most of the film’s characters stumbling into one another – greeting or being greeted – at the international airport outside of London.
As the Beach Boys’ hit “God Only Knows” plays out, the bigger than life vignettes give way to real-life portraits of folks greeting one another – husbands and wives, friends and lovers, people! The screen splits, then splits again; then again and yet again. Hundreds of people hugging, holding tight and living out the lyrics that poignantly explain each of the stories in the movie..
Recall the refrain? If not, check out the headline to this posting to help jog your memory. Now go hug that special person in your life and happy New Year!