A Review by Chris
I should mention
right at the beginning that I recently discovered that I was a Hugh Grant
fan. Perhaps it's important that you know this at the outset before
committing to reading this review.
Still here? OK. I was a bit
taken aback by this discovery about myself, just as I was taken aback by
how much I really enjoyed Notting Hill. It's not that I have
anything against Hugh Grant, it's just that I didn't expect myself to like
this movie, and all of Grant's work. So far, he does one thing with his
acting - the fidgeting, shy, young Englishman - but I consistently find
myself laughing at it.
It's just not valid to blame
an actor for essentially playing the same character over and over. The fact
is, if we're going to start faulting actors for being somewhat the same
from role to role, we're all going to have to stay late tonight making our
list of bad actors. Carey Grant is very much Carey Grant from role to role,
and I still like watching him. Gene Hackman plays basically Variations on
Gene Hackman in each movie, and I still like him. Harrison Ford, apart from
Mosquito Coast and Regarding Henry, does his same thing
everytime, and no one is complaining very much, apart from a few crackpots.
VERY FEW actors feel the need to completely chameleon from part to part.
Even Dustin Hoffman occasionally just does Dustin Hoffman in a role. And I
think that's OK! Because there is another, more important criteria for
acting - believability.
I would blame an actor for
being in the same sort of MOVIE over and over long before I'd blame them
for playing the same character over and over.
Another thing maybe you
should know - I am not really a Julia Roberts fan. This is not to say I
actively campaign against her (As I do Rene Russo), it's that I don't quite
understand her hype, and don't go to see movies based on her participation
in them. I'm neutral about her.
So my recommendation of this
movie comes from being a fan of one actor, and not the other. And my rating
is Go see this film at a matinee if your first choice is sold out.
(You can get a list of my ratings here). This may seem somewhat low after
I've already said that I really enjoyed it, but that was the circumstance
under which I saw Notting Hill: We went to Webster Place to see Austin
Powers, found it sold out*, and decided to go to Notting Hill
Maybe my enjoyment of it is
predicated on already having been psyched up for laughing at Austin
Powers. Maybe the fact that the theatre was full for Notting Hill,
and that everyone was laughing uproariously was ALL a symptom of Austin
Powers fallout. Whatever, it worked for me.
Notting Hill was written by Richard Curtis, the
same man who wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral. And it so follows
the pattern of Four Weddings that it almost seems like a second
draft of that movie. Shy, charming Englishman falls for American girl, is
consoled and helped along by a group of supportive, witty, down-to-earth
friends, one of whom has a physical impairment. However, even though I
noted this during the movie, it did not change my enjoyment.
I always like it when
characters are introduced in a movie who you think are there mainly to be
cartoonish, and then they end up having some interesting depth. I like it
when I'm all set to think one character is meant to ultimately be a bitch -
or a bastard - and then am surprised. Or when a character has a degree of
complexity - when they are not consistently, uniformly villainous or pure.
That I found it in this seemingly light romantic comedy was a pleasant
Go check it out and quit
whining about Hugh and Julia.
* Something that seems to happen with increased
regularity at Websters. I blame their new parking system which has turned a
convenient theatre plex into a nightmare of parking and traffic. And
although the new parking deck and ill-placed exits may not be expressly at
fault for the selling out of movies, I feel better for having mentioned
them here anyway.