1999, Movies

Notting Hill (1999, Roger Michell)

I have avoided this movie for nearly decades simply because I figured it was a typical romantic comedy. I made the decision that I had no interest in romantic comedies sometime in my teens. I’ve since come to realize that was maybe a little unfair to some of these movies, but I’m kind of amazed I hadn’t watched 15 minutes of this on TV at some point, and judged it, as I did that with a lot of romantic comedies when I was in my teens and even into my early 20s. (I am what I’ve done. I’m sorry.)

Like a number of other of romantic comedies I have spent decades avoiding, this is surprisingly funny. For me, the highlights mostly involve the crazy Welsh flatmate, a very British spin on the “crazy roommate that gets in the way” trope of these movies. But there are other scenes that are also pretty funny, and the tone is relatively consistent, with enough jokes until the big climax to keep me laughing. (There was one particularly funny line near the end which I cannot recall.)

The other thing that’s really appealing is the supporting cast – like so many British films, the people around the two stars are normal looking. It’s always so refreshing to watch a British film where they cast normal looking people as normal people rather than the American romantic comedies (and other films) where most speaking roles are pretty unless the script calls for otherwise.

Oh, and there’s also a really great (and justly famous) shot in the middle of it that is super arty and not at all what you would expect in a movie like this.

But I must say that I kind of find Julia Roberts’ character to be a bit of a brat. I don’t envy anyone their fame and I understand that it is hard to be famous, and not something I can really understand. But I find her perhaps a little unsympathetic, a little more than she’s supposed to be anyway. As a wish-fulfillment fantasy (of a male writer), I can’t say it transported me away; I don’t want to be in Hugh Grant’s character’s shoes is what I’m saying.

But I laughed a lot.


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