A bittersweet update of Love Actually scoops up the married, the single, the adults and the children in a swirling, interconnected, not-especially-incisive survey of the search for true connection.
British screenwriter Nicholson, who scripted Gladiator, revisits eight years later some of the characters from his previous novel (The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life, 2010) to find a shaky marriage; a predatory parent; several young adults, variously innocent or experienced; and other more or less yearning individuals linked to a comfortable corner of the English landscape just before Christmas. Mature-but-sexy Belinda Redknapp is horrified to discover her balding plastic surgeon husband Tom is having an affair. Belinda’s daughter Chloe tries to match-make a romance between fellow students Alice and Jack, later becoming ensnared herself by Alice’s unreliable father Guy. Laura, Jack’s mother, is called on to help her sister Diana, whose husband Roddy has stopped talking, while Alice’s step-aunt Meg meets a plumber with a secret life. And so it goes, a spiral of expectations, disappointments and aphorisms drawn from encounters in life and love. Some find happiness, some must reconsider what they have, others can’t or won’t commit. Nichols adds flashes of intensity and wisdom to the cozy mix but several characters tend towards caricature and there are shortages of originality and grit.
Smooth but lukewarm reflections on the search for passion.