WHAT it’s about: A demure travel book shop owner, William Thacker (God, even his name is dull) gets swept up in a tempestuously hot-and-stone-cold affair when movie star Anna Scott rolls into Notting Hill. Anna’s “foul temper” (think Ava Gardner’s bravadominus the sailor tongue) keeps the meek Briton at bay, but the poor bloke is nonetheless hooked, showering Anna and her outbursts with equal patience and admiration from his endless well of nice-guy understanding, as needed when crushing on the popular girl.
- Sure, for most of the film, William’s self-esteem suffers because a pair of male anatomical imperatives has yet to grow in. (Anna’s high-priced heels trample all over him and at one point he loses her to Alec Baldwin!!!) But he shamelessly oozes Jane Austen-era old-world elegance and English class. Sigh.
- British banter. William’s gang of not-much-better-off thirtysomething supporters, each competing to be more self-deprecating than the last, are charming and poignant in their no-nonsense English way. The scene where they reward the Saddest Act in London with the last remaining brownie will leave you hankering to throw posh dinner parties to celebrate the cathartic healing of commiserating with your equally self-pitying pals.
- There’s a Grant line that gets me every single time: The paparazzi have tracked down Anna, who’s been shacking up at William’s flat. Caught up in one of her many bouts of rage, she tells him she’ll regret the conjugal visit for the rest of her life. His gentlemanly response? “I will do the opposite, if that’s all right by you- and always be glad you came.”
- A newfound, tear-jerking appreciation for Elvis Costello’s “She“.
- If you haven’t heard the meta-billion references of the following dialogue as rehashed in pop culture and cheesy pleas to drifted lovers thereafter, well, here’s your chance to fix that:
- Oh, and because I said so.