So, my wife and I went to the sneak preview offered last night for "Love, Actually" and aside from knowing that it had a good portion of British Beefcake for my wife, I had very little knowledge about it. Basically, it tells nine different stories about love, which are all loosely tied together, in the month preceding Christmas in London. The film begins with a very nice frame by letting us know that it's a film celebrating love in a post 9/11 world. Some of the stories are grand Hollywood romances, whereas others deal with love in a much more realistic sense, all handled with deft charm from writer/directoor Richard Curtis. There are really three stand-out stories. The most affecting to me regarded Laura Linney and her inability to start a relationship due to family comittments. It's a heartbreaking little story that has more to do with love for one's family than the more traditional romance. Then there's a quaint little vignette with Liam Neeson as a widower left to raise his step-son. The little guy is moody, not from the recent loss of his mother, ibut because he's fallen in love with a little American girl at school. The two bond over the situation, and ends in one of the more grandly romantic ways. Third, there's a tender little story about a marriage with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman who has a wandering eye for his young Secretary. And then there's more comical tales involving a single Prime Minister, Hugh Grant, in love with one of his house servants, a nice little tale with Coling Firth trying romance across the language barrier and more. The film is unabashedly sentimental, and that's why it works so wonderfully. It forgets much of the cynicism that permeates modern cinema, instead tugging on our Christmas spirit. There are grand bits of comedy, including a pair of professional stand-ins (people who stand in for stars for lighting) who find each other while standing-in for a particularly racy film--earning the film its R rating. Although it may sound extreme, it's actually handled with warmth and subtelty. A chief complaint likely to lobbed its way may be that some of the stories don't reach a real resolution, but to me, this is one of the film's greatest strengths. Several of the stories are of the nature where a pat, resolute ending wouldn't be true. They deal with issues that aren't as finite as we are sometimes led to believe by other movies and sitcoms. It's an odd juxtaposition against the grandly romantic stories also offered here, but they all end appropriately for the type of story they are. The most engaging performances are from Emma Thompson and Laura Linney, which may not be considered Oscar caliber due to the material, but are none-the-less perfectly pitched for this movie. I highly reccomend this film for the upcoming holiday season as it has just thre right sense of Capra-esque charm for adult audiences. I'd say four out of five stars. I believe it opens Nov. 7th.