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Film / Notting Hill

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"I live in Notting Hill. You live in Beverly Hills. Everyone in the world knows who you are. My mother has trouble remembering my name."

A 1999 Romantic Comedy written by Richard Curtis, directed by Roger Michell, and starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant as the two leads. Rhys Ifans, Hugh Bonneville, Gina McKee, Emma Chambers, and Tim McInnerny costar.

Anna Scott (Roberts) is a staggeringly successful and internationally famous movie star who happens to meet travel bookstore owner William Thacker (Grant) in the eponymous London neighborhood and enters into a somewhat rocky relationship with him. They want to be together, but her megastardom constantly intrudes on their happiness. Along their road to love, there’s plenty of quirk and British accents to add a bit of fun and flavor.

The film is notable for taking several shots at show business, in particular how the industry treats its female stars.

This film provides examples of:

  • Amicable Exes: Will and Bella dated briefly and never seriously in the past. He counts her as one of the girls he loved that got away but they are able to laugh about it (in her husband's presence no less) and it hasn't affected their deep friendship with each other.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Anna asking William for another chance doesn't seem particularly emotional at first, but given her personality, it speaks volumes, as does her thoughtful present for him. Which makes his rejection all the more painful.
  • Appeal to Worse Problems:
    • William has the habit of doing this, enough that Spike, who's often the target of it, picks it up at one point, and lampshades it to Anna at another:
    Spike: What he's going to say next is that there's people starving in the Sudan.
    • William actually agrees with the last one and tries to diminish what Anna is about to go through after being caught on camera by paparazzi answering Will's doorbell with only pajamas on, by comparing it to how Bella is stuck to a wheelchair for the rest of her life, and that in the great scheme of things, an actress' scandal is nothing. Anna shuts it down pretty quickly though:
    Anna: You're right. Of course, you are right. It's just that I've dealt with this garbage for ten years. You've had it for ten minutes. Our perspectives are very different.
  • Babies Ever After: Implied Trope. After a montage showing William and Anna wed and started a life together, the last shot shows Anna pregnant as she lays her head on William's lap.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Played for Laughs; at Honey's birthday party, every gives reasons why they should get the last brownie (Bella is in a wheelchair and can't conceive, Bernie is hopeless at his job and hasn't had a girlfriend in years, Honey is paid next to nothing at her job and has had bad luck with men, and William's wife left him and he is nicknamed "Floppy"), and Anna asks for her own shot; she talks about the the way her personal life is splashed out over the media, her plastic surgery, and the fact she'll have nothing once her looks go, and everyone realizes she can't act. Everyone seems to be taking her seriously...and then Max says, "Nah, nice try, gorgeous", and they all laugh and agree it was a pathetic attempt to get the brownie.
  • Beta Couple: Supporting characters Max and Bella are William's happily married friends who remain supportive throughout his romantic tribulations.
  • Book Ends:
    • The movie starts with a montage of Anna on the red carpet and ends the movie with the same, except at the end William is on her arm.
    • The last shot of the movie is in the place they kissed after the birthday party.
  • Bookworm: William is this to an extent. He owns a travel bookstore and he also suggests that Anna do a movie adaptation of a Henry James novel. Which she does.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: When the tabloids show up at William's house:
    • Anna refuses to believe that William didn't tip off the press (it was Spike; albeit accidently) and declares she regrets their time together, understandably upsetting William.
    • However, William is hugely insensitive to Anna's situation, telling her it'll blow over and that other people, like Bella, have it worse. It's not hard to blame Anna for being angry at him over this. Both seem to regret their behavior later.
  • Breakfast in Bed: William wakes up to Anna bringing him breakfast in bed.
  • Breathless Non Sequitur: "I'm sure you meant no harm, and I'm sure it was all just friendly banter and I'm sure you all have dicks the size of peanuts. Enjoy your meal the tuna's really good."
  • Brick Joke: When William goes to the interview with Anna, he claims to be from "Horse & Hound". At the end of the film, when William tries to ask Anna for forgiveness at her press conference, her manager identifies him as "the horse guy".
  • Celebrity Is Overrated
    Anna: You know the fame isn't real.
  • Chick Flick: With a distinct 90s feel no less.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Oh, Spike. Honey is this to an extent as well, but Spike just takes the cake.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Max tries to make gourmet meals, but the results are almost always inedible. At Honey's birthday dinner, his attempt at roast guinea fowl results in smoke pouring out of the oven, while after one of William's blind dates, he is sheepishly apologising about the failure of the lamb dish he tried to make.
  • Crash-Into Hello: William and Anna met when she bought a book at his store, but they literally run into each other later that day in the street and he spills orange juice all over her.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Played hilariously towards the end. When Will tells his friends that he turned down Anna Scott, they all attempt to comfort him and consent that he made the right decision. Cue Spike's reaction.
    Spike: (arriving) I was called. I came.
    Honey: William was just telling us that he turned down Anna Scott.
    Spike: (gapes at William for a moment) You daft prick!
  • The Ditz: Spike, whom William describes as the stupidest person you can imagine...then doubled. In his Establishing Character Moment he asks William to choose between three inappropriate shirts for a first date, and he inadvertently blabs about Anna being in their house, causing drama when it reaches the press.
  • Fun T-Shirt: Spike has a few including "You are the most beautiful woman in the world... fancy a fuck?"
  • Funny Background Event: When William spills orange juice on Anna's shirt on the street, there's a big bald man in the background wearing sunglasses and a fur coat leading a little girl in a blue pinafore by the hand.
  • The Grovel: And how! At the press conference at the end where William is begging Anna to give him another chance while pretending to be a reporter asking her questions, she definitely puts him through the ringer ... but ultimately accepts his apology.
  • Happily Married: Max and Bella. Absolutely devoted to each other and when she starts to tear up when telling the group about their inability to have children he tears up right alongside her and makes a big show of cheering her up by putting the spotlight on Will.
  • Horrible Hollywood: Anna says that Hollywood is a materialistic superficial world full of former boyfriends who mistreated her, painful plastic surgery operations to give her her looks, etc.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Spike and Honey.
  • Idiot Ball: The only possible reason why Anna would answer the door to Will's flat, when she had previously made such an effort to keep a low profile. Will gets it as well for not outright stopping her from opening the door.
  • Informed Ability: Subverted. Anna is the most popular actress working in the Hollywood of the movie and while we never see her act very much, Anna herself claims that she's not very good.
  • I Was Young and Needed the Money: Anna took some sexy pictures in her younger days that she very much regrets. She tells William that she was poor at the time she did it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Spike may have all the social graces of an overturned dustbin (witness the obscene T-shirts he thinks are appropriate first date attire), but his heart's in the right place, as we see when he is the one who makes William realise he made a mistake turning Anna down, and then he jumps out of Max and Bella's car and directs traffic to allow them to get to Anna's press conference before she potentially leaves their lives forever.
  • Lap Pillow: Anna lays her head on William's lap in the final shot of the film.
  • Lonely at the Top: Anna is one of the world's most acclaimed and beloved actors. She is also a regular media punching bag and has been dragged through the grinder by the Hollywood machine leaving her isolated.
  • Misery Poker: After a dinner during which Anna meets all of William's friends, everyone in attendance competes for the last brownie by detailing the various ways in which they themselves are the saddest person at the table.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: The morning after sex, Anna muses about why men love breasts, while keeping her own safely covered under the sheets.
  • Monochrome Casting: Aside two of Anna's co-stars, there are no racial minorities to be seen. What makes this stand out is that Notting Hill in real life is known for its black community.
    • Parodied here.
    • Comments he got about this made Richard Curtis to be more circumspect and present a more multi-ethnic cast in his next film, Love Actually.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After rejecting Anna's attempt at reconciliation near the end of the film, William is commiserating with Max, Bella, Bernie, Honey, and Tony at the last-named's soon-to-be closed restaurant, and they all agree that he made the right decision. Then Spike arrives and reacts to the news with "You daft prick!". It isn't long before everyone, William included, has this same reaction:
    Bernie: But she said she wanted to go out with you?
    William: Yes... sort of...
    Bernie: That's nice.
    William: What?
    Bernie: Well, you know, anybody saying they want to go out with you is... pretty great. Isn't it?
    William: It was sort of sweet, actually. I mean, I know she's an actress and all that, so she can deliver a line, but she said that she might be as famous as can be... but also... that she was just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.
    [Reaction Shots of the other six, their expressions slowly shifting to mirror Spike's declaration: "You. Daft. Prick." And soon, William himself has that same expression]
    William: Oh, sod a dog. I've made the wrong decision, haven't I!?
  • Nice Guy: William. His roommate Spike may also count.
  • Oh, Crap!: Twice at Honey's birthday party; once when Bernie realizes he was talking to Anna without recognizing her ("Oh, God. Oh goddy God"), and once when Anna tells Belle that she's a vegetarian ("Oh, God").
  • Old Shame: (Invoked) How Anna feels about some risqué pictures of her. And possibly how she feels about her on-again/off-again movie-star boyfriend.
  • Open the Door and See All the People: Spike with the press.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure:
    William: Is this your first film?
    Child Actress: Well ... actually, it's my 22nd!
    William: Any favorites among the 22?
    Child Actress: Working with Leonardo.
    William: DaVinci?
    Child Actress: DiCaprio.
    William: Of course. And is ... is he your favorite Italian director?
    • Also, an In-Universe example; Bernie's inability to recognize Anna at first.
  • Precision F-Strike: Honey's memorable reaction upon meeting Anna the first time: "Oh, holy fuck!"
  • Race for Your Love: William and his friends race around trying to find Anna before she leaves for America. Do they find her in time? Of course they do.
  • Shout-Out: The SF movie Anna starred in has a 2001: A Space Odyssey feel to it, with claustrophobic corridors, space helmets and the evil robot.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Behind the Hollywood sheen, Anna is lonely. She becomes attracted to William for his kindness, his ability to mostly be unintimidated by her fame, and for him treating her like a person.
  • Space Clothes: One of Anna's movies has her as a retro-space babe in a flattering astronaut suit.
  • Stepford Smiler: As her profession requires, Anna often has to smile at uncomfortable or unpleasant situations. Most notably when William turns her down after her emotionally baring herself to try to get another chance with him, she smiles widely, though she's clearly pained and heartbroken.
  • Stock British Phrases: It is set in England after all.
  • Tabloid Melodrama: As might be expected for a movie-star, the tabloids swarm all over Anna throughout the movie.
  • Textual Celebrity Resemblance: Will mentions that his wife ran off with a man who looks like Harrison Ford.
  • Time Passes Montage: They do this so subtly that you could almost think they randomly tossed a music video of the protagonist walking down the street through a spot of bad weather. And then you realize that the woman holding the baby was pregnant at the beginning of the song, that other woman broke up with the boyfriend she was delirious about three minutes ago...and did that spot of bad weather have a Christmas tree and Santa in the middle of it!? It's actually four different takes that were extremely well planned out and edited together. Go watch and marvel.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Spike the "masturbating Welshman".
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding: Two misunderstandings — first, Anna believing that William had betrayed her by going to the press; and second, William overhearing comments Anna made while filming.
  • Trailer Spoof: An excessively meta version; one trailer pretended to be for Austin Powers (itself well known for this device).
  • Uptown Girl: Anna (internationally famous movie star) and William (ordinary bookstore owner) fall in love with each other.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The last of William's blind dates turns out to be a perfect match for him. After her scene, no further mention is made of her. As the conversation with Max and Bella immediately afterwards shows, William considers Rosie "perfect", but not a match for him, so it already is clear that he has no intention of picking up on her suggestion to meet again.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: "You daft prick."
  • When She Smiles: Anna wears plenty of bland, forced smiles throughout the film due to her profession, but her genuine, thrilled smile after William essentially proposes at the press conference is beautiful, and the camera lingers on it to show how much of a difference he makes in her life.


Video Example(s):


Shirts for a First Date

Spike asks William to help him choose a shirt for a first date. The first two are funny but inappropriate; the third seems corny (but fine) but turns out to also be inappropriate.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / FunTShirt

Media sources: