Notting Hill

Don’t even try to tell me you’re not charmed by Notting Hill. Don’t. Even.

Directed by Roger Michell from Richard Curtis’s script, it’s really just about a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to play it cool, goddammit.

Mega superstar and talented actress Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) walks into a cute neighbourhood (travel) book store and meets bumbling store owner Will (Hugh Grant) and though their worlds are both geographically and metaphorically miles apart, they somehow allow a mutual attraction to play out.

Endearingly, their first real date is a group thing, a dinner party thrown in honour of Will’s little sister’s birthday. The friends assembled are a notable bunch of kooks. The birthday girl, Honey (Emma Chambers), has no chill at all; having always fantasized a famous bestie, she immediately gloms on to Anna. Host and cook Max (Tim McInnerny) will be mortified he’s just served meat to a vegetarian. His wife Bella (Gina McKee) is just so happy that Will’s brought a girl that she can’t help but embarrass him over and over. And hopeless Bernie (Hugh Bonneville) is sweetly clueless, not even recognizing the fame monster in their midst, and benignly quizzing her as to whether she’s able to get by on a working actor’s wages (she is). They’re a bunch of nuts, but they’re quite delightful as a group, and Anna is made to feel welcome and not too conspicuous. Will is a door to a quieter, humbler way of life. Not always enamoured with the trappings of fame – though clearly tied to them financially – it’s a wonderful respite for Anna. But is that enough?

No one recites a Richard Cutis line quite as well as Hugh, and no one twinkles half as hard as Julia. They were perhaps not the best of mates on set but it’s a testament to their talent that they are nothing but fireworks on screen.

The cool thing about this movie is that it was actually filmed on the streets of Notting Hill. There really was a house with a blue door (Curtis lived there for a time himself). And there really was a travel book shop, though it was too narrow to film in, so they confiscated an antiques store around the corner and outfitted it with books. Notting Hill has since been overrun with tourists, and not just the kind who come to snap a few pictures and leave. Many have been enticed to buy property there; prices in the area went up by 66% in the 5 years since the movie was released, double the growth rate elsewhere in London. 

Anyway, this film isn’t deep, and perhaps not altogether realistic, either. But it’s so filled with good cheer you don’t mind. And of course you know exactly where it’s going practically before it even starts, but the fun is in the getting there because you get to ride along with such an oddball cast of characters, plus a couple of romantic leads at their peak, floppy haired cuteness.

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21 thoughts on “Notting Hill

  1. ninvoid99

    I admit to not being a fan of Richard Curtis’ work but I do love this film as it was on HBO a lot lately and it is surprising how well it holds up after its release 20 years ago as I can see why it beat the shit out of Jar-Jar and “this is pod-racing” back in the day.

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  2. selizabryangmailcom

    I was moving back to L.A. from NYC and looking for an apartment and SO depressed to be back in town…..took a break and wandered into a theater to see this….and was IMMENSELY cheered up. Fond memories during dark times, lol …….

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    1. Jay Post author

      Good for you – I love how some movies can just take you back to this exact time and place. I’m so glad this one was there when you needed it.

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  3. Birgit

    It’s just ok for me and Julia Roberts is the weakest link and I hated…hated that dumb ass speech of I’m just a girl in front of a boy (Finger in mouth to initiate gag). I did love his roommate and his friends whom I would have liked to have seen more of

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yes, they could totally do a spin-off – even the other guy who works in the book shop was a weirdo. Literally no one in this movie is normal!

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  4. calensariel

    I wish I could post 30 likes on here! Notting Hill is not only one of my top five movies, but the soundtrack is one of my top three. I really thought I would piddle down both legs at the theater when Rhys Ifans answered the door in his underwear then checked himself in the mirror. I nearly choked I laughed so hard and his nibs had to give me quite a “pat” on the back so I could breathe again. LOL

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  5. mywifeisablackbelt

    Haha I like Hugh Grant’s character but Julia Roberts, basically playing Julia Roberts, is annoying. Especially her “speech” towards the end about how “terrible” her life is and how everyone should feel sorry for her for being rich and famous and entitled…

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