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Notting Hill (1999, Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts)

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Divorcee William Thacker (Hugh Grant) runs an unprofitable bookshop in London’s fashionable Notting Hill, which attracts American movie star Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) as a customer. Minutes later they collide in the street and William manages to cover her in orange juice. He invites her to his flat to clean up, and she impulsively kisses him before leaving.

When his idle flatmate Spike (Rhys Ifans) fails to convey a message from Scott, Williams wonders if she has tried to contact him but days later, they finally arrange a date, but William is forced to pose as a journalist to meet her, and then picks up the pieces after the tabloids publish nude shots of Anna as a teenager, forcing her to seek refuge back at his flat. The next morning, the area is swamped with reporters – Anna accuses William of kiss-and-tell betrayal, and leaves. William must summon all his charm, ingenuity and patience if there is to be a happy ending…

Richard Curtis’s script is a litany of one-liners balanced by a commentary on the pressures of fame: ‘I’ve been on a diet since I was 19,’ complains the svelte Julia, aware of Hollywood’s body fascism. Rhys Ifans pays this no notice, spending all but one scene with a woodbine and workman’s arse, and steals the film.

Grant’s patrician charm is undeniable and the film went on to become the biggest British movie of all time with $300 million in global receipts. It sparked a boom in tourism and a charity auction featuring the infamous blue door (formerly owned by Curtis, in his own flat) saw a bidding frenzy. Rhys Ifans’ unwashed smalls went for £420 before being spirited back to Wales by an eager patriot!

production details
UK / Working Title / 124 minutes / 1999

Director: Roger Michell
Writers: Richard Curtis,

cast
Hugh Grant as William Thacker
Julia Roberts as Anna Scott
Tim McInnerny as Max
Rhys Ifans as Spike
Emma Chambers as Honey
Hugh Bonneville as Bernie
Richard McCabe as Tony
James Dreyfus as Martin
Dylan Moran as Rufus the Thief
Roger Frost as Annoying Customer
Henry Goodman as Ritz Concierge
Alec Baldwin as Jeff King
John Shrapnel as PR Chief
Emily Mortimer as Perfect Girl
Paul Chahidi as Loud Man in Restaurant
Mischa Barton as 12-year-old Actress
Clarke Peters as ‘Helix’ Lead Actor
Ann Beach as William’s Mother
Samuel West as Anna’s Co-star
Tony Armatrading as Security man
Simon Callow as Himself in Film within Film (uncredited)
Rupert Procter as Journalist
Dorian Lough as Loud Man in Restaurant
Julian Rhind-Tutt as ‘Time Out’ Journalist
Gina McKee as Bella
Sanjeev Bhaskar as Loud Man in Restaurant
Lorelei King as Anna’s Publicist

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