Notting Hill

Dom Robinson reviews

Notting Hill Can the most famous film star in the world
fall for the average man in the street ? Distributed by


  • 059 760 2
  • Cert: 15
  • Running time: 119 minutes
  • Year: 1999
  • Pressing: 1999
  • Region(s): 2, 4 (UK PAL)
  • Chapters: 18 plus extras
  • Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Languages: English
  • Subtitles: English, Dutch
  • Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Super 35)
  • 16:9-enhanced: Yes
  • Macrovision: Yes
  • Disc Format: DVD 9
  • Price: £19.99
  • Extras : Scene index, Trailer, Booklet, Biographies and Filmographies, Travel Guide to Notting Hill, Production Note screens, DVD-ROM content


      Roger Michell

    (My Night with Reg, Titanic Town, TV: Persuasion)


    Duncan Kenworthy


    Richard Curtis


    Trevor Jones


    William Thacker: Hugh Grant (An Awfully Big Adventure, Bitter Moon, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Extreme Measures, Impromptu, Maurice, Mickey Blue Eyes, Nine Months, The Remains of the Day, Restoration, Sense and Sensibility, Sirens)
    Anna Scott: Julia Roberts (Conspiracy Theory, Dying Young, Erin Brockovich, Everyone Says I Love You, Flatliners, Hook, I Love Trouble, Mary Reilly, Michael Collins, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Mystic Pizza, The Pelican Brief, The Player, Pret-a-Porter, Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, Satisfaction, Sleeping with the Enemy, Something To Talk About, Steel Magnolias, Stepmom)
    Spike: Rhys Ifans (August, Dancing at Lughnasa, Heart, Kevin and Perry Go Large, Rancid Aluminium, Twin Town, You’re Dead)
    Max: Tim McInnerny (101 Dalmatians, Erik the Viking, Fairy Tale: A True Story, Richard III, Rogue Trader, Wetherby, TV: Black Adder)
    Bella: Gina McKee (Joan of Arc, The Lair of the White Worm, Naked, The Rachel Papers, Wilt, Women Talking Dirty, Wonderland)
    Honey: Emma Chambers (The Clandestine Marriage, TV: Drop The Dead Donkey, How Do You Want Me ?, The Mixer, The Secret Garden, Skullduggery, The Vicar of Dibley)

Notting Hill is the title of the film but it has nothing to do with it other than being the name of the London section in which it is set. The story itself is a basic love story but with a complicated twist.

Everyone dreams of a film star they’d love to go out with and do the one-two-buckle-my-shoe, but my world was turned upside-down when I learned that Kate Winslet got married and is now with child. However, it’s not like this for everyone.

William Thacker (Hugh Grant), like many people all over the world, is a big fan of film star Anna Scott (Julia Roberts), but like a mere handful of them he can actually see sense and never believes he’ll ever get to meet her. Fate plays its hand though and she walks into the bookshop where he works, but before he can begin to appreciate the situation, she’s gone again.

What follows is a series of coincidences as she appears when he leasts expects it and the more she does, the more he falls in love with her and would give anything to make that work, but surely it’s a love that can never be? He works with the camp Martin (James Dreyfus – does he ever play anything but gay characters?) in a travel bookstore that can’t balance its accounts, while she’s a movie star earning $15 million a time.

Of course, I could be cynical and say that since this came from the pen of Richard Curtis, creator of Four Weddings And A Funeral

, in which Hugh Grant got the girl despite all the obstacles put in his way, surely the same will happen here? You might say that. I could not possibly comment.

Of the rest of the cast who play second-fiddle to Hugh Grant, Rhys Ifans excels as William’s smelly and lazy flatmate Spike, The Vicar of Dibley‘s Emma Chambers appears on a handful of occasions as his ditzy sister Honey and there’s also a dinner party featuring most of the main cast members at the house of his best friend Max (Black Adder‘s Percy/Captain Darling Tim McInnerny) and his wife Bella (Gina McKee), who is in a wheelchair but it’s used in a poignant way and not just as a politically-correct plot device.

The cast also features Hugh Bonneville as failed accountant and friend to those at the top of the cast list, Bernie, plus cameos for star of BBC2 “How Do You Want Me ?” and stand-up comic Dylan Moran as “Rufus the thief”, Roger Frost as the bookshop’s “Annoying customer”, HippiesJulian Rhind-Tutt as a ‘Time Out’ journalist, Lorelei King as Anna’s publicist and “Small Potatoes” / “Goodness Gracious Me“‘s Sanjeev Bhaskar as one of four “Loud Men in Restaurant”.

The “uncredited roll-call” list calls out to Alec Baldwin as Anna’s film-star boyfriend, Christian Simpson as Anna’s friend, “Smack The Pony”‘s Sally Phillips as Caroline in a deleted scene (but don’t go looking for it on this disc) and Simon Callow and Matthew Modine as people who star within a film.

Finally, comic Andy De La Tour appears (credited) as “Journalist #1”. Not sure who he is? Fans of “The Young Ones” should “Think once. Think twice. Think: Don’t Drive on the Pavement !”.

What can I say about the picture quality other than it’s excellent. Anamorphic, original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio, free of artifacts, rich in detail and colour plus a very high average bitrate of 7.73 Mb/s occasionally peaking over 9Mb/s.

The sound is also faultless. Released in Dolby Digital 5.1, there’s clarity to be found in the dialogue and music, which includes When You Say Nothing At All (Ronan Keating) and Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers). However, when I saw this film in the cinema it made me want to cry at the fact I didn’t have a Dolby Digital amplifier.

It’s a very subtle effect but a clever one. At first I thought the soundproofing at the Trafford Centre’s UCI Cinema was all-to-cock, but it soon transpired that the intense bass hum from the .1 in the soundtrack was meant to be how William felt whenever he saw Anna.

Extras :

Chapters/Trailer : There are the usual 18 chapters for a Universal DVD, but a two-hour film needs more. The original theatrical trailer is included as well. Just a shame it includes a voiceover from Radio “DJ” Mark Goodier.

Languages & Subtitles : A bit on the sparse side. Only English dialogue (albeit in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround) plus subtitles for the same and the Dutch language.

And there’s more… : There’s cast Biographies and Filmographies for those actors listed detailed at the top of this review as well as Hugh Bonneville and the film’s writer, producer and director. The actors’ biogs are also included in both English and Dutch in the Booklet.

The Travel Guide to Notting Hill is a handful of screens dictating how the real area is kitted out and the disc also includes extensive Production Notes. Finally, the disc also contains some DVD-ROM content, although this replicates much of what you’ve already read as well as expanding on info for a number of other crew members.

Menu : Nicely animated for the main menu with some subtle sound.

Anyone who’s read my review of Four Weddings And A Funeral will know that it was anything but my favourite film of all time. Apart from Hugh Grant, who is always worth a watch, I just couldn’t get into the film at all or find it particularly funny. Hence, it took a large bribe from the missus to tempt me along to the cinema but I ended up finding it even more funny and engaging than she did.

Everyone has their part to play and there’s a number of clever comic moments that stand out including a prolonged sketch when Hugh tries to arrange a “private meeting” with Julia early on in the film and when James Dreyfus comments on the time he thinks he saw Topol “…or it might have been Ringo Starr“.

The downsides? Well, the film features none of the area’s huge ethnic community, which is as much a part of the area as Moss Side and its gangland shootings. It’s also lacking a number of extras which would have been most welcome : an Audio Commentary by director Roger Michell, producer Duncan Kenworthy and writer Richard Curtis, Hugh Grant’s Movie Tips and some Deleted scenes. Apparently the German DVD features The Making of Season Walk, whatever that might be.

If you’re not fussed about the missing extras then choose this disc as it will have a higher resolution due to the PAL format, even though both UK and USA DVDs are anamorphic. Either way, Notting Hill is a brilliant film that deserves to be seen by everyone, especially those, like me, who weren’t fond of Four Weddings And A Funeral. FILM : ****½ PICTURE QUALITY : ***** SOUND QUALITY: ***** EXTRAS: *** ——————————- OVERALL: ****½

Review copyright © Dominic Robinson, 2000.

[Up to the top of this page]