Dave Karger and Joshua Rich
December 26, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Emma Thompson gives one of the year’s Great Performances

No, two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson wasn’t going to get lost among her 15-odd costars in the holiday Brit romance Love Actually. But as an upper-middle-class housewife, she delivers the most heartrending scene in an otherwise heartwarming movie in just 20 seconds flat. The joy of opening her Christmas gift melts to sadness as she faces the crushing realization that her husband (Alan Rickman) has been cheating on her. Then, in a brief, wordless moment, Thompson retreats from her family and surreptitiously caves. It’s the kind of spirited, lived-in performance that can come only from deep inside. ”Having your heart broken,” says the 44-year-old actress, ”being in love with somebody deeply unsuitable, thinking that you’re more attractive than you are, and then finding out that you’re not — I’ve certainly brushed with most of them.” If they gave awards for honesty, Thompson would surely have another to add to her collection.

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