Solid Gold Sh*t

Schmaltzy. Corny. Coincidental. Contrived. Pick one. It’s true about Love Actually, an ensemble that within the first two minutes, shows the 9/11 card to begin pulling at the heartstrings – at Christmas of all things.

Of the eight or so romantic stories in Love Actually, not one is plausible. They’re made up of the worst Hollywood rom com tropes imaginable, up to and including a run through an airport to find the girl – and with a 10-year-old boy at the helm of this master plan. Eyes roll. Then they begin crying.

Love Actually doesn’t always deal in the simple or the sure

I don’t think even the die hard fans of Love Actually can deny the above. This movie is the worst, and yet its heart is so earnest and truthful, what’s a certifiable disaster wins viewers over with its charm. It’s funny. It’s warm. It’s soothing.

There’s a singular thread pulling these stories together – just say it. Don’t lie to others or yourself. Misery can’t win. Take a shot, see what happens. That’s easier than living with personal conflict. Whether this involves a grade school crush, the Prime Minister, or senior citizens, Love Actually finds that common bond in all of them.

The script is amusing. It mocks Christmas with a self-awareness through an aging rock star forced to produce a garish holiday album (which is a success because he’s honest). It deals with stale marriage, empty threesomes, politics, grief, and one-off flirtations. All of them – even the most hollow – all come back to finding one’s pure center. That’s how Love Actually conquers the avalanche of cliches, by using these stories from across the social spectrum to do what Christmas should do, and that’s bring people together (and it’s so overly mawkish, that hurt to type).

Within all of these different scenarios is something relatable, whether it’s the British man using his accent to score with American bar women, the guy forced to watch his best friend marry the woman he loves, or the man considering an affair, Love Actually doesn’t always deal in the simple or the sure. It’s complex, and the endings are not always Hollywood in their form. That’s a truthfulness absent from the usual studio rom com, and when combined with its core theme, Love Actually worms its way into classic status as if by sheer luck, chance, and accident. Sometimes, that’s just how it happens.

Video

Universal’s compression on Love Actually is as putrid as anything on this format. Watch as Hugh Grant first enters his home. The walls behind him become made up of weird blocking and irregular shapes. This happens for the entire runtime as the grain struggles to resolve in any natural capacity. Anywhere there’s soft focus or depth of field, the imagery collapses into a mess of artifacting. It’s a rare anomaly on this format.

What’s disappointing is that underneath, Love Actually appears to come from a new scan. In close and in focus, the detail can thrive. Resolution looks strikingly sharp, and facial texture appears. In wide shots, that all collapses, sadly. Mosquito noise follows the characters as they move. Even in the mid-range, Love Actually collapses into nothing but digital noise.

In HDR, the already hefty contrast holds up with an added glow. Black levels sink to a solid depth. Color likewise brightens, hitting a peak saturation point and staying there, even if the palette changes intensity scene-to-scene.

That said, the included Blu-ray is a better choice.

Audio

Dolby Atmos seems excessive for Love Actually. It is, actually. However, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the mix, which adds ambiance during crowd scenes. Music elevates nicely, spreading around the soundstage; that’s where any range is exhibited. By ear alone though, nothing stands out as “Atmos-y.”

Extras

On the UHD, director Richard Curtis leads cast members Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, and Thomas Sangster on a commentary track. A making of runs 30-minutes, followed by deleted scenes (which Curtis introduces). Curtis returns to discuss the music, with a final piece discussing the writing with producer Tim Bevan and Curtis. Two music videos close this one out.

Love Actually
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

Schmaltzy and contrived as it is, Love Actually has a weird staying power that excels at delivering everything it intends to.

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User Review
3 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 37 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


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