the book worm
Reviewed by Carlos deVillalvilla
The world of the rich and famous can be fascinating for the rest of us, who live vicariously through the tabloids, glimpsing a lifestyle we will never lead. The romantic in all of us pines for a chance encounter with a charming prince or beautiful princess who sweeps us off our feet and into a life of wealth and privelege.
Of course, this rarely happens in reality, but the tale is as old as our collective imaginations and "Notting Hill" tells it smartly.
Julia Roberts is Anna Scott, the world's most famous and glamorous actress (now, that's a stretch) who for reasons that are never explained, finds herself in the Notting Hill bookshop of William Thacker (Apology King Hugh Grant). The two don't hit it off immediately; guarded and wary at first, they gradually grow warm and even affectionate as their feelings begin to manifest.
Circumstances continue to conspire against the couple. Scott's boyfriend (an uncredited Alec Baldwin) unexpectedly shows up, ruining what could have been an intimate encounter. When they finally do get together, loose lips alert the media, which turns the whole thing into a circus and kills the relationship before it starts.
This being a Hollywood love story, we know how it's going to end, but even though we do, we still enjoy the ride.
Grant, perhaps the greatest stammering aw-shucks romantic lead since Jimmy Stewart, is completely endearing as the ordinary Joe.
Roberts pokes a lot of fun at her own image, while employing her own charisma to her advantage. Is there a more likable actress in Hollywood?
Notting Hill is the real star of the movie. One of the most charming neighborhoods in London, it reminds me of San Francisco's neighborhoods, only with a British endurance. It feels solid and eternal while showing a homey, quirky face to the world. I wouldn't be surprised to find that real estate agents in Notting Hill got a lot of business off of "Notting Hill."
Usually with these kinds of movies, Da Queen is my barometer of success. If she is tearful in the right places and ends up in a sentimentally romantic mood, it's a winner. With "Notting Hill," she wouldn't let go of me for at least five minutes after the closing credits.
Likable leads with real chemistry, a sense of charm and English accents plus a plot that is pure fairy tale ... who could ask for anything more? As chick flicks go, "Notting Hill" is pure gold.
Theater or Video?