Starring: Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant, Richard McCabe
Director: Roger Michell
Running Time: 124 mins
Notting Hill is a British film about a young bookshop owner whose unexpected encounter with a world-famous actress changes his entire life as the two fall in love.
Now, let’s get this straight, I hated Four Weddings And A Funeral. I thought it was painfully cheesy and schmaltzy, and Hugh Grant was at his most annoying. However, this, whilst still being completely full of cheese, was actually relatively funny and heartwarming, with a strong performance from Julia Roberts, and not a terrible one from Hugh Grant.
Let’s start off with that aspect, which was what was most impressive about this film. The performances here were very convincing, very down-to-earth, and a lot of fun at the same time, which is something that Four Weddings didn’t have because it was so ridiculously cheesy. Julia Roberts does a great job as this actress who wants to get out of her media-dominated lifestyle in exchange for a simple romance with this young man, and Hugh Grant, despite playing his generic awkward English gentleman, wasn’t too annoying, and actually quite easy to support.
What’s more is that the story here is actually very convincing and understandable. Again, Four Weddings’ emphasis on passion and pure love was just too much, whereas this is a lot more realistic, and its detailing of Julia Roberts’ boredom with the Hollywood lifestyle makes this story seem a lot like Roman Holiday.
And Roman Holiday was a massively sweet and entertaining rom-com, full of genuine heart and fun throughout, and whilst this may not have the same carefree feel of that film, it’s still a lot of fun to watch Hugh Grant’s character being thrust into the media spotlight.
Also, the comedy here is pretty good. Richard Curtis has always been a comic genius, and whilst Four Weddings was a little bit dull on the comedic side, this film has got a lot more simple, clear comedy, whether it be the odd bit of slapstick, or just some hilarious awkwardness that is surprisingly charming to watch, which just ups the entertainment value all the more.
Despite all that, the final stage of this film, when the romance really hits its heights, is still just a bit too cheesy. It feels almost identical to the end of Four Weddings, and as a result, it just loses its convincingly created story when it reverts to generic rom-com cheese, so that’s why this gets a 7.0 overall.