Sir Real, But Nice
Notting Hill
Review by Ross Anthony

Despite my lack of appreciation for Hugh Grant, "Notting Hill" rocks.

Hugh bumbles modestly, dropping clever leafy quips like a young Maple tree in a light breeze. In the film, Julia Roberts plays a beautiful, mega-famous actress of average talent. Ironically, reality holds the opposite to be true: she's an average looking woman with fantastic talent as an actress. Whether or not she's a "pretty woman" to you is a rather mute point since she aptly plays the role.

Meandering into Hugh's travel bookstore, Julia and Hugh strike up a passionate, but impossible romance. Hey, what is it with the bookstore fascination in romantic comedies these days? ("Got Email," "The Love Letter" to name just a two.)

This typical "complicated" romance vehicle is not what makes the picture rock. Rather, it's the sharp, sometimes raw, British-fused humor -- most apparent in the first 60 minutes. This half of the film taken alone deserves 5 stars, 2 thumbs. However, it being only 50% of the "big picture" ... would that be 2.5 stars and 1 thumb? Hold the quotient, there's still the remainder to factor in...

Like an off road 4x4 that eventually stumbles across the beaten path, "Notting Hill" offers much less untraveled territory in the second half. None the less, the crisp humor keeps familiar scenery from becoming stale.

Beyond the slight decline in intensity after its middle, the film has only one other area barely in need of improvement. Anna Scott (Roberts) is most often unpretentious and calm, but occasionally weilds a particularly selfish temper. Falling victim, William (Grant) is shocked, but far less upset than he has the right to be and not as much as we'd like to see him be.

Surprisingly light and fun overall, "Notting Hill" is good solid entertainment.

Starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.
Directed by Roger Michell. Written by Richard Curtis.
Produced by Duncan Kenworthy at Universal/Polygram/Working Title/Notting Hill Pictures.


Copyright © 1999 Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:02:15 PDT