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Time Out Says
Eight or nine plotlets, a castlist the size of a rugby scrum. Whatever persuaded first-time director Curtis that he could handle this lot, we can only hope that a hype-happy press and the biggest audience money can buy won't persuade him he's carried it off. This is an embarrassment, an overdrawn rom-com gone very wrong. Alternately sentimental and silly, it aims wide, and misses. On the one hand, we have Neeson comforting his lovesick 11-year-old; Linney with a loony in her attic; and Knightley as a newlywed with a not-so-secret admirer - none of whom is remotely funny. On the other, there's Firth as a jilted writer failing to communicate with his comely Eastern European maid; a couple of movie stand-ins bonking; and McCutcheon as Number Ten's tealady, catching the eye of Grant's PM (even Tony Blair looks credible in comparison). Hard to decide which mini-sitcom is most ludicrous, but it's clear the broader canvas hasn't afforded Curtis a longer perspective on society. His upper middle class twits have no more depth than his lower middle class twats. Stranded in this boutique confection are two stand-out performances: Emma Thompson is genuinely touching as the wife of philandering Alan Rickman; and Bill Nighy has a ball as an old rocker with a Christmas comeback single - a record no more crass or pre-packaged than this shameless yuletide schmaltz.