No Shame Movie Review: Notting Hill

This is part of a series of No Shame Movie Reviews. For reasons I won’t speculate and rant about now, we have been told that only some movies are worth enjoying. Only artsy movies with a meaningful and/or ambiguous message, perhaps. To that, I say phooey. I say that you should be able to watch and enjoy any movie you want – from low-budget children’s movies to dramas about the hopelessly romantic. If you enjoy them, then why the heck should you not be able to watch them without shame? 

 

As someone whose identity is strongly based on her love of romantic comedies, I am truly ashamed to say I had never seen Notting Hill before this past week. I know, I know — it’s a travesty. But don’t you worry. I watched it, and I loved it, and I’m here to tell you all about it.

For those of you who (like me) have been living under a rock and haven’t seen this classic, here’s a basic rundown. William (Hugh Grant) owns a bookstore in London. Anna (Julia Roberts) is Hollywood’s biggest star. They meet, and a rollercoaster of kissing, heartbreak, and all-around awkwardness ensues.

One of my favorite parts of this movie is that it isn’t afraid to show the bumps and bruises of falling in love. It isn’t love at first sight, necessarily. There’s a lot of stuttering and not quite knowing what to say next. William is gloriously awkward — he’s star struck and bumbling and adorable as can be. It makes him seem so much more real and relatable. I mean, what kind of person would honestly be debonair and charming when trying to flirt with a celebrity? If you’re out there saying “Me! Me!” then there’s at least a 95% chance you’re lying. Because you’d be a blushing mess, just like the rest of us.

With William embodying the awkward fangirl deep inside all of us, it would have been very easy for this movie to just leave Anna up on this pedestal of stardom. But she’s much deeper than just this beautiful celebrity everyone is gushing over. She has her own fears and flaws and problems — all that doesn’t go away just because she’s rich and famous. There’s an absolutely wonderful scene where all of the characters are going around telling their problems, and they skip over Anna because they assume her life is perfect. Needless to say, she quickly proves them wrong.

Another thing that is so fabulous about Notting Hill is that it’s not just about William and Anna. There is a whole slew of supporting characters, each with their own unique characteristics and complex story arc. So many movies will skip over the main guy’s sister or the main girl’s best friend because, well, they aren’t the main guy or girl. Why waste the audience’s time with all these storylines that aren’t about our main couple falling in love?

Include them because our main couple aren’t falling in love in isolation. Other things are happening in their lives beside this one relationship, and seeing that context will make us appreciate them more as people, not just as ridiculously beautiful character falling in love. Notting Hill does an absolutely fantastic job in making this whole world come alive, not just William and Anna.

As I’m sure everyone is painfully aware, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow. Whether you’re planning on spending the holiday with your significant other, your also-single friends, or the always reliable Ben & Jerry, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll end up watching a romantic movie. If Notting Hill doesn’t seem quite like what you’re looking for, check out these other Netflix-accessible picks.

Stuck in Love

Love, Actually

Stardust

Pride and Prejudice/Bride and Prejudice

Bridget Jones’s Diary

The Prince and Me

Shakespeare in Love

Silver Linings Playbook

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, Single’s Awareness Day, normal Sunday – whatever you end up celebrating.

What would you add to this list? Be sure to let me know!

 

 

Image credits: Meansheets.com, Filmaffinity.com, imdb.com, HughBonneville.uk