Jan 4, 2013

[Movies] Notting Hill (1999)

The holiday season also meant watching different movies based on the complex equation of what was playing on TV + which family member has the remote control + total family members watching TV. We've all played out this scenario before.

For one reason or another, we found ourselves re-watching Notting Hill during one of the afternoons that we were all together in the living room. It was just one of those blissful moments when the channel surfing stopped and we all agreed that this movie was worth another go even though we've all seen it multiple times.

I won't go as far as claiming that somehow this is one of the greatest movies of all time - that would definitely be pushing it. But it is undeniably a well-made one and certainly a good example of how a good romantic comedy goes. And it seems just as well that I finally get around to posting a formal review for this movie to help kick off 2013.


Synopsis: Notting Hill is a British romantic comedy written by Richard Curtis and directed by Roger Michell. Among its many nominations, it's notable that the movie did with the BAFTA for the Audience Award for Most Popular Film and the British Comedy Award for Best Comedy Film.

The movie revolves around independent travel bookstore owner William Thacker (Hugh Grant), who lives a rather plain life in Notting Hill, London. He is a divorcee who now lives with his somewhat eccentric Welsh roommate Spike (Rhys Ifans). In other words, he's just some typical bloke - more or less no different from our or me (beyond the fact that he happens to be played by Hugh Grant).

Things take an interesting turn when famous American actress Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) happens to visit William's book shop. After this first chance meeting, William quite literally bumps into Anna again, and in the process accidentally spills his orange juice on her. He quickly offers his flat as a place for her to change and thus begins their unusual friendship and eventual romance.

The core premise of the story isn't necessarily a new one - it's your classic class divide sort of love story where you have the famous actress and the every man being brought together by circumstance. And if you based your opinions of movies on how original their plots are, you're not going to be a very happy movie-goer. But what sets this movie apart is how it was all put together starting with the quality of the writing to the strength of the acting talent involved.

This movie certainly helped lock Hugh Grant into his typecast for such movies as the bloke who speaks in spurts and jumbled sentences while trying to look somewhat cute - or however you want to describe it. To be fair, he does it really well and the writing certainly called for his particular brand of acting this time around, so it really worked. And he certainly made for quite the witty balance against Julia Roberts as their odd, almost delicate beauty.

The supporting cast helped define this movie as much as the leads, and I'm not just referring to the hijinks and antics of Rhys Ifans (but yes, he was hilarious as well). In this case we most definitely need to highlight Emma Chambers, who played William's sister Honey. It's hard to pinpoint precisely why she's such an endearing character, but she most certainly is. And it was fun to have her being such a big fan of Anna in the movie, thus making their eventual meeting all the more poignant.

Notting Hill is a very simple story, but there was a certain grace in terms of how it was put together, thus making it far greater than it seemed on the surface. It remains quite the favorite movie in many circles and has pretty wide appeal across audience segments. I dare say that it's hard not to find something that you'd enjoy about this movie and thus it'll always deserve at least one run-through or two. So I happily rate the movie as 4.5 crazy things that Spike does that makes us question how fit he is for conventional society out of a possible 5.


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