Love Actually (2003) and New Year’s Eve (2011) are two romantic comedy films with a lot of similarity on the theme, speech, or the structure of the story. These movies are good to compare seeing that the directors of both titles are specialized in making romantic comedies. Love Actually was made by Richard Curtis who wrote scripts for renowned romantic comedy like Four Wedding and Funeral, Notting Hill, and Bridget Jones’ Diary while New Year’s Eve was from Garry Marshall that worked on Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, The Princess Diaries, and Valentine’s Day. Love Actually is full of English famous artists while New Year’s Eve uses American stars.
Love Actually comes with nine short stories in five weeks before the Christmas eve. One is about Billy Mack (Bill Nighy), a rock’n roll legend, who tried to promote his new song with a help from his loyal manager, Joe. There is also David (Hugh Grant) as a new single English prime minister and his love interest toward one of his domestic staffs, Natalie. Jamie (Colin Firth) presented his story as a writer who just broke up with his fiancé and isolated himself into a villa with a new servant, Aurelia, as his companion. We have too Daniel (Liam Neeson) who was in grief after the death of his wife and had to face a problem about his step daughter, Sam, who fell in love with her friend. Then, Harry (Allan Rickman) was bored with his wife, Karen (Emma Thompson), and in the meantime attracted to Mia, his secretary in the office. Other than those, there is Juliet (Kiera Knightley) that just married to Peter but eventually realized that his husband’s friend, Peter, had a feeling for her too.
Like Love Actually, New Year’s Eve has multiple stories, this time is 8 stories that happened all in one day of the new year’s eve. First is about Claire Morgan (Hillary Swank) who was the most responsible person for the success of new year’s eve celebration in New York. There is also Jensen (Jon Bon Jovi), a famous singer with an intention to meet his ex-girlfriend, Laura (Katherine Heighl). Meanwhile, a secretary of a recording company, Ingrid (Michelle Pfeiffer) had a to-do list to accomplish before the new year’s eve. She lured Paul (Zac Efron) with a concert ticket to help her complete ambition. At the moment, Stan Harris (Robert De Niro), an end-stage cancer patient, wanted to see the new year’s eve show in his latest time accompanied by nurse Aimee (Halle Berry). A competition occurred between Griffin (Seth Meyers) and Beth (Jessica Biel) who were both pregnant and aimed for the bonus money if any of them could deliver the baby right in the middle of new year’s eve. For the last one, there is Kim (Sarah Jessica Parker) who was worried about her daughter, Hayley (Abigail Breslin), that wanted to spend the time of new year’s eve with her friends in the city.
Both movies have similar storytelling by employing multiplot or some might say spider web plot where several plots are combined and presented alternately. This pattern is quite complicated and it’s the reason why the stories are mild. In Love Actually, it’s not just about the love between couples but parents and children, siblings, and friends too. It talks about loyalty, pride, friendship, hope, and sacrifice. In the other hand, New Year’s Eve brings similar theme with more variations though only have the stories that are happening in one night. Love Actually takes place not only in London but in a village in France, Milwaukee (US), and a town in Portugal while New Year’s Eve never leaves New York.
With the story on 5 weeks to Christmas, Love Actually has more than enough time for the background to create the dramatic and emotional side compared to New Year’s Eve. The stories in Love Actually feel stronger since the characteristic of each person is built gradually from time to time. The chemistry of every love story in it is well built although some couples do not have strong motive to fall in love, like between Jamie and Aurelia. In fact, there is even no chemistry in New Year’s Eve since the background of every story is not that detailed, giving superficial stories and not enough feeling for the characters there.
Love Actually succeeds in the casting with its mild stories. Every artist shares the same chance to explore their characters, like the famous comedian Rowan Atkinson who could steal the audience’s attention for a while by showing up just a moment as the jewelry shopkeeper. It must be admitted that the casts act far from their talent but they look enjoying their parts for the movie. In New Year’s Eve, great stars, counting senior actor Robert De Niro, seem like they are just cameo for the film, affecting in less soul and less vibes. Those movie stars are likely occupied only to sell the movie.
Both movies are sprinkled by many romantic songs. Love Actually stands out using popular songs from Norah Jones, Dido, Maroon 5, and Beach Boys. A beat song from The Pointer Sister, Jump, convoys the prime minister dancing and one classic song from Wet Wet Wet, Love is All Around, is parodied into Christmas is All Around performed by Bill Nighy himself. New Year’s Eve carries song from Jon Bon Jovi who plays as the rock singer while Auld Lang Syne is presented solemnly by Lea Michele.
Overall, Love Actually is better than New Year’s Eve especially from the story point of view. Love Actually does not only contain strong story and theme but also its seamless casting. Love Actually is truly entertaining, warm, touching, and melting love film that sometimes makes us laugh. Meanwhile, New Year’s Eve is so cold, as cold as New York, being merely a romantic movie without any deep and meaningful impression.
Assistant editor and senior writer at Montase, and movie lovers