The plot is, indeed, somewhat confusing in this film, because it's made up of several loosely connected subplots about relationships. Supposedly they are all reflecting different kinds of love, which - as we're told - is all around us. The cast of main characters was larger than I'm comfortable with in general, so it's a tribute to the script and the actors themselves that I mostly managed to keep track of who was whom.
The majority of the actors and actresses are well-known in other fields - so much so that even I recognised them despite my very limited film viewing compared to many. One of the most significant was Hugh Grant as a new and slightly naive British Prime Minister who develops a bit of a thing for a new tea-lady. His sister, played by Emma Thompson, is excellent, married to someone played by Alan Rickman who's something of a workaholic, and seduced into doing something foolish by one of his workers.
Then there's Colin Firth playing a writer whose wife cheats on him, and who then falls slowly for a European domestic worker who doesn't speak any English. My favourite subplot of all, however, features Thomas Brodie-Sangster, whose name I did not recognise but whose face was familiar from such diverse productions as Nanny McFee and Doctor Who. He plays a recently orphaned boy slowly getting to know his stepfather, and their scenes are, in my view, by far the most poignant and thoughtful of all.
A few of the subplots are light and amusing - particularly those with Bill Nighy as an aging rock-star, trying to produce a rather naff new Christmas song. There are some funny moments when Rowan Atkinson features as an over-enthusiastic shop assistant, too. Unfortunately, two of the other subplots seemed utterly pointless; the film, in my view, would have been a great deal better without them. I was particularly unimpressed with somewhat explicit scenes from a young couple who were supposedly making a porn film despite being very shy. It was somewhat gross rather than comedic - the US censors have given this film an R rating, which for once seems quite appropriate, although the more generous UK ones.
Still, despite the two lame subplots, the acting is very well done, and despite the large cast it holds together in a way that works, and even I found myself keeping up with most of the storylines. While I'm not sure I'd watch it again, it made an enjoyable light evening's viewing.
Recommended guardedly, so long as you don't object to very explicit nudity and simulated sex.
Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews