The chances of an ordinary guy like myself bumping into Julia Roberts is less likely than me winning the lottery. And the chances of me bumping into her and then getting a kiss? I don’t even want to consider it. It is this kind of what-if scenario that makes Notting Hill so enjoyable.
William (Hugh Grant) Thacker is an ordinary guy who lives in Notting Hill. He owns a travel bookstore that is deep in debt, his wife divorced him for a guy who looks like Harrison Ford and he now lives in the house that they bought together. He has a flatmate that’s a disgusting, though hilarious, guy. One day his whole life changes when the world famous actress Anna (Julia Roberts) Scott walks into his bookstore. The fun and odd romance starts from this point. Odd in the sense that in Notting Hill the typical movie gender roles are reversed. Thacker is put into the position of the person at home waiting and wondering. And Anna is the one off in the world working.
The best thing about Notting Hill is that the two main actors are doing parts that they have been doing for a long time. The parts that Grant and Roberts are attempting in Notting Hill are familiar, both to the viewers and to the two actors. Which makes a original but familiar feeling movie.
The first hour of Notting Hill is absolutely hilarious. The second hour keeps some of the humour from the first hour but becomes a bit more heartbreaking as it continues. The second hour does lose some of the first hour’s steam, but this isn’t a big deal. My favourite moment of the film is when Anna and William jump a gate to take advantage of a private park. From the moment they arrive at the gate, this sequence had me laughing. The scene ends on a sweet note with Anna discovering a park bench with an inscription on it.
Julia Roberts is back at the top of her game now that she is doing the roles that fit her best. Roberts has always been a romantic-comedy type actress. Her roles in romantic-comedy films have always been hits (Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding), while her roles in dramatic and otherwise have been lukewarm at best (Mary Reilly). My Best Friend’s Wedding is still my favourite film of Roberts, but, Notting Hill comes up a close second. No matter what you think of Hugh Grant, he’s a good actor. His bumbling-guy act is ingenious and works well in Notting Hill. This bumbling-guy (“Oopsie-daisies”) act is what makes us like him in the film and bond with his character. If it weren’t for this, I don’t think that his character would have worked out. The two leads share tangible screen chemistry and this also helps.
Someone worth mentioning is actor Rhys Ifans as William Thacker’s flat-mate Spike. Ifans is hilarious as Spike. Every time that Ifans is on screen it’s a laugh-out-loud moment. Look for his performance in the film, he steals the movie. Another thing worth mentioning is the film score by Trevor Jones. The score consists mostly of an acoustic guitar and fits the film like a glove. It’s a shame that the score hasn’t been released on its own CD, but you can find bits of the score on the Notting Hill soundtrack.
Notting Hill may not be the most original film, but it has all the right elements to make it a Don’t Miss film. If you’re not planning on seeing Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, or are waiting for the lines to die down, Notting Hill is the perfect film to catch. Don’t Miss Notting Hill.