Notting Hill (1999)
Directed by Robert Michell
Written by Richard Curtis
Starring: Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts
Hollywood star Anna Scott has been trying to keep a low profile on her trip to London. When she steps into a small bookstore in Notting Hill, she walks right into the quiet life of Will Thatcher. Despite their differences, Will and Anna begin a complicated relationship while hiding from the media. As the pressure builds, each of them struggles to figure out what they really want.
Sometimes casting is everything, and this film is a great example. The pairing of Hugh Grant (About a Boy) and Julia Roberts (Valentine’s Day) was a great decision. Roberts has an awkwardness that comes through is very subtle ways behind a great performance as a major star. Opposite her, Hugh Grant does what he does best, playing a socially awkward and somewhat lost soul. These two truly carry the movie, but they’re not alone. The cast includes a number of memorable characters who accentuate the ups and downs of the film. This includes fun work from Richard McCabe (The Duchess), Rhys Ifans (Anonymous), and James Dreyfuss (Boyfriends). Overall, the acting in this movie is really fun and plays perfectly with the smartly written script.
The story for this movie came from writer Richard Curtis (Love Actually). His screenplay features great dialogue and mirrors many of his other popular works. The film was directed by Robert Michell (Changing Lanes). With a good director and a great script this one comes together very nicely. The production aspects of this film really seem to accentuate the differences in each of the people throughout the story. Even the score seems to play off of each moment nicely.
Unfortunately, this film seems to come from a familiar playbook. Some critics have criticized the film as a weak followup to Four Weddings and a Funeral. It’s definitely not a film that will keep you guessing, but that doesn’t hurt the overall experience. This movie relies on good dialogue and endearing characters to keep things fun and interesting. Some of the writing is a bit dramatic, but nothing that comes across as unbelievable or cheesy.
If you’re a fan of Hugh Grant or Julia Roberts I hope you’ve already seen this one. If not, take the time and enjoy a fun movie. I would also recommend this one to fans of romantic comedies. This is a fun story about people trying to bridge the gap between two separate worlds, and it comes with many great moments. I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.
Good review Jeff. I haven’t seen this one in awhile, but I do remember being charmed by it. As much crap as Grant may sometimes get for playing the same, blubbering fool in these types of rom-coms, he’s always interested me as he’s given us somebody that would be a real person, just not nearly as good-looking. If that makes any sense at all.
I totally understand your comment. I think of him as a modern British version of Jimmy Stewart. He’s pretty much unchanging, but somehow fits into most of his films really nicely.