Notting HillMay 28, 1999
The life of a simple bookshop owner changes when he meets the most famous film star in the world.
Release Year: 1999
Rating: 6.9/10 (92,564 voted)
Critic's Score: 66/100
Stars: Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, Richard McCabe
Every man's dream comes true for William Thacker, an unsuccessful Notting Hill bookstore owner, when Anna Scott, the world's most beautiful woman and best-liked actress, enters his shop. A little later, he still can't believe it himself, William runs into her again – this time spilling orange juice over her. Anna accepts his offer to change in his nearby apartment, and thanks him with a kiss, which seems to surprise her even more than him. Eventually, Anna and William get to know each other better over the months, but being together with the world's most wanted woman is not easy – neither around your closest friends, nor in front of the all-devouring press.
Rufus the Thief
'Time Out' Journalist
'Helix' Lead Actor
Can the most famous film star in the world fall for just an ordinary guy?
Release Date: 28 May 1999
Filming Locations: Coronet Cinema, Notting Hill Gate, Notting Hill, London, England, UK
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: £152,532
(23 May 1999)
(31 December 2001)
Did You Know?
When writer Richard Curtis viewed the film for the first time, he found it to be too similar to his previous film,
Four Weddings and a Funeral.
In the scene at Kenwood House, William is given headphones to listen in to the dialogue as they're filming, yet he overhears a casual conversation between Anna and her lead actor who aren't miked up.
Apart from the American, I've only loved two girls, both absolute disasters. The first one marries me and then leaves me faster than you can say Indiana Jones, and the second one, who seriously ought to have known better, casually marries my best friend.
She still loves you though.
Yeah, in a depressingly asexual way.
I never fancied you much actually.
Warm and Human British Comedy
Notting Hill is a district of west London that was built as a
fashionable Victorian suburb, became very run down during the mid
twentieth century and is now once again fashionable, but which retains
a distinctly cosmopolitan atmosphere, with London's biggest street
market and many small specialist shops. (My wife and I sometimes go
there to shop for bargains). The hero of the film, William Thacker, is
the owner of one of these shops, a travel bookshop. The film concerns
the romance which develops between William and a young woman named Anna
Scott whom he meets when she comes into his shop.
As another reviewer has pointed out, 'Notting Hill' is based around a
theme, love between people of unequal social standing, which has
provided literature with some of its greatest works, both comic and
serious, dating back at least to the tale of King Cophetua and the
beggar-maid. Although many of these stories tell of a poor but honest
lad who aspires to the hand of a princess or titled lady, Anna is not
part of the Royal Family or the British aristocracy. She rather belongs
to an even more exclusive elite, the Hollywood starocracy. She is a
hugely popular film star who earns at least $15,000,000 per film, and
pops into William's shop during a brief stay in London to publicise her
Although Anna is played by a real-life Hollywood superstar, Julia
Roberts, the film is very typically British. William is similar to an
number of other Hugh Grant characters, being a shy, diffident
middle-class Englishman, probably public-school and university
educated. (Despite this background, he is not particularly wealthy
following a divorce from his first wife and is forced to share his
lodgings with an eccentric Welsh flatmate, Spike). The humour of the
film, particularly the dinner-party banter between William and his
friends, is mostly of the typically ironic, self-deprecating variety
popular in Britain, especially in middle-class circles. Rhys Ifans's
Spike, by contrast, typifies another strand of British humour, the
eccentric zaniness found in the likes of 'Monty Python'. Spike's strong
provincial accent suggests a more working-class background; this
possibly accounts for the teasing that he has to put up with from the
other characters, although he takes it all in good part.
William may be diffident, self-deprecating and unsuccessful, but he is
probably the stronger of the two main characters. Anna is beautiful and
successful, but underneath it all she is insecure, worried about losing
her fame and fortune and about her inability to form lasting
relationships with men. Early on in the film she has another boyfriend,
Jeff, but it is clear that he is only the latest in a long string of
unsatisfactory romances which have left her emotionally (and in some
cases physically) bruised. The scene where Anna says to William 'I'm
just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her' is the
one where we see her at her most vulnerable. Although both characters
are in their late twenties or thirties, it is noteworthy that Anna
refers to 'girl and boy' rather than 'woman and man'. Anna's
vulnerability also comes through in her reaction in the scene where
hordes of paparazzi appear on William's doorstep; William tries to play
down the incident, and Spike finds it hugely amusing, but Anna is
horrified. (The film was made shortly after the death of Princess
Diana; this scene possibly reflects British disgust with the antics of
the paparazzi, who were regarded as being partly to blame for the
Princess's death). Like others, I found myself wondering how much
Anna's personality reflects Julia Roberts's own; she too has had a
number of unhappy relationships.
Important roles are also played by Tim McInnerny and Gina McKee as
William's best friend Max and his disabled wife Bella; the love of this
ordinary couple for each other provides a more realistic, down-to-earth
counterpart to the fairy-tale romance of William and Anna, helping to
anchor the film more firmly in reality. The main charm, however, lies
in the relationship of the two main characters, as Anna comes to
realise that the seemingly ordinary William has a kindness and decency
which count for more than the monstrous egos of Jeff and his like. Like
'Four Weddings and a Funeral', which was also written by Richard Curtis
and starred Hugh Grant, 'Notting Hill' is one of the warmest and most
human British films of the nineties. 7/10