May 29, 1999 -- "Notting Hill" is a very enjoyable adult romantic comedy because of fine performances and some clever dialogue.
The story is not particularly believable, and there are some awkward moments in it when the screenplay doesn't advance the plot convincingly, but these problems are overcome by some very charming actors who create interesting characters. These actors make you willingly suspend your disbelief as they pull you along a through a thoroughly predictable story.
The top-notch acting talent includes Julia Roberts, who more or less portrays herself, and Hugh Grant, who, despite an off-screen image that has been sullied, can still portray innocent charm on the screen. Grant plays William Thacker, a bachelor bookstore owner who has a chance encounter with a famous movie star, Anna Scott (Roberts).
This chance encounter is one of the rough spots in the plot, as Thacker literally runs into Scott and invites her to his house to get cleaned up. This fumbling, stumbling first encounter seems to go on for hours, until Scott suddenly, impulsively kisses Thacker. Their wildly improbable romance slowly begins to take off, with many false starts and stops.
Grant and Roberts make a fine romantic pair, but Thacker's roommate, Spike (Rhys Ifans) nearly steals the show. Also good are Thacker's small circle of family and friends, Bernie (Hugh Bonneville), Honey (Emma Chambers) and Martin (James Dreyfus). When Thacker introduces Scott to his family and friends they end up in a round-table group therapy session straight out of Hollywood. Although the film uses location footage well, we really don't see much of that famous British reserve.
Mostly what sustains us through this film is the bright and witty patter between Thacker and Scott. Such intelligent and adult level conversation is rare in the movies these days, and is to be cherished. It makes us want to follow these characters and root for them despite the obvious and phony situations and misunderstandings the plot puts in their way. You know how it is going to end. This film rates a B.
Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.