Main cast: Julia Roberts (Anna Scott), Hugh Grant (William Thacker), Richard McCabe (Tony), James Dreyfus (Martin), and Rhys Ifans (Spike)
Director: Roger Michell
I like Notting Hill. The movie makers have adhered to the successful romantic comedy formula of the moment well. There is Hugh Grant again, and the eccentric and funny best friend. A handicapped character, this time a dear woman in wheelchair. And the dialogues are witty and wicked at times, making me chuckle and laugh out loud. Spike, William’s flatmate, gets the best lines. The scene where he tries on different T-shirts with rude greetings and asks William’s opinion on them – now that is a funny moment!
This one has an Englishman charming an American woman with his gentility. This time the lucky woman i Anna Scott, an actress so popular and award-winner material (despite acting in some dodgy-looking sci-fi movies) that everyone she meets in Notting Hill district has his or her jaws wide open the moment they met her. Even William. He offers her a free book along with her purchases, spills coffee on her dress, and takes her to a gathering of his family and friends. It is easy to see why Anna falls for William at first. The first dinner scene is charming, and telling too, as the characters decide to play a game to determine who will get the last helping of a dish. They will swap true sad life stories and the most pathetic would be the winner. Anna tells hers, a stock story of how her career isolated her to loneliness, et cetera. Instead of sympathizing, the other people at the dinner table burst out laughing. “Tough luck. Good attempt, but you’re not fooling us.” This is either blind idol-worship or a refreshing inability to be awed by the presence of a glamorous movie star. Anna is right to be intrigued. Here is a gentle, polite gentleman with wonderful friends and family, of course she will want to know them better.
William’s case is more difficult. Anna is a cold, sometimes surly, and always snappy woman. The only reason for his attraction is either because she is his favorite glamorous movie star, or that he likes dour people. The latter couldn’t be the case as he is always surrounded by folks who remained laughing in the face of adversity. Throughout the movie, I never detect any significant evolution of his initial attraction to Anna. Is he attracted to the movie star or the person? When Anna declares to him in a later scene, “I’m also a woman offering her heart to the man she loves,” I believe her utterly. But how does William feel? I never get a clear impression. Partly because William never stops apologizing in Anna’s presence. He acts more like a servile fan than a lover most of the time.
Notting Hill is fun, breezy, and Anna and William, while never having convinced me they would live happily ever after, had wonderful screen chemistry.