Notting Hill

4 out of 10


Romantic Comedy In My Old Home

Quiet penniless bookseller meets international superstar and they fall in love. Ludicrously unlikely? No, not at all! As an ex-resident of Notting Hill area for over a decade, I can assure you it`s almost a certainty. For some reason, all the laws of probability breakdown in this leafy central London equivalent of the Glebe. Shortly after finding out that my next door neighbour was Douglas Adams, the author of "The Hitchhikers` Guide To The Galaxy", I once went out political canvassing at the time of a major election and walked straight into Britain`s most famous Soap star, but as a person without a TV at the time, I failed to recognize her much to her extreme disgust. On another occasion, I commented to the woman standing in front of me at a supermarket checkout line that she bore a close similarity to a world-famous British actress or TV and screen, to which she replied, "That`s because I AM HER!". A ludicrous number of other similar things happened to me whilst I lived that, it just goes with the place!

Quiet penniless bookseller meetsThe film vividly and faithfully recreates the laid-back atmosphere of Notting Hill (including its staple Newspaper "LOOT" - upon which this very newspaper is based), its garden squares (just like the one I used to live in), and its residents, regarded as outrageously eccentric even by British standards, (such as the sex-starved Welsh roommate, Spike, played brilliantly by Rhys Ifans), but possibly with perhaps too much reality for outsiders to believe. Julia Roberts as the superstar, Anna Scott and Hugh Grant as the book shop owner, have a powerful chemistry on the screen, but their relationship is badly marred by drab, difficult and unfunny dialogue and long, uneasy and rather pregnant "what-do-we-do-now" pauses. Such a meeting of worlds would indeed produce these, yet one gets the feeling it`s more the result of the scriptwriters having the same problem. Typecast as a rich, successful and selfish manipulator, Julia Roberts, complete with a gravity-ravaged chest and a wardrobe apparently supplied by Hope Services, is clearly hard to project as cute, attractive and in need of sympathy. At one point, they even have to write in a piece so she can chuck in the trite claim to have had a boyfriend who once hit her.

Quiet penniless bookseller meetsWith scenes in the trailers and advertising that don`t appear in the movie, one guesses that frantic efforts in the cutting room have already been made to trim this down to a two and a half hour juggernaut. Despite this, some flashy camera shots and a pathetic attempt to squeeze in a laughably inappropriate car chase at the end to put a few volts through this corpse, it remains a slow, predictable and directionless one-joke movie from Universal Studios, the trademark of failure.

Lots of Atmosphere, but where`s the story?

Film Critic: Robert L Thompsett