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Cry over spilled orange juice with ‘Notting Hill’

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Rian Hughes

On storybook streets in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, there is an apartment with a blue door. Out of that door walks William Thacker, a travel bookshop owner who barely makes enough money for a cappuccino. At the bookshop, Anna Scott, a world-famous movie star, walks in the door and into Thacker’s life while purchasing what Thacker considers the worst book on his shelves.

Starring Hugh Grant as William Thacker and Julia Roberts as Anna Scott, “Notting Hill,” directed by Roger Michell, has captured the hearts of romantics since its release on May 28, 1999. It is a classic boy-meets-girl tale, and while the movie is slow, it is slow deliberately for the sake of authenticity — however authentic a fairytale love story can truly be.

Full of humor in a way that is reserved only for the British, the comedy in “Notting Hill” is dry and short but never lacking. Thacker’s idiosyncratic roommate, Spike, played by Rhys Ifans, provides most of the comedic relief through costuming rife with graphic t-shirts — most notably “Get it here” with an arrow to his crotch and prescription swimming goggles paired with a red biker’s suit. 

The love story between Thacker and Scott begins when Scott gets doused in orange juice by a clumsy Thacker, who then invites her to his apartment to change clothes to avoid a public relations nightmare. After bumbling through an awe-stricken conversation, closing with the idiotic but charismatic line “Surreal but nice,” Scott kisses Thacker in his entryway, beginning their love affair.

What follows is a series of moments only a movie could produce, such as pretending to be a journalist for Horse and Hound in order to speak to Scott, breaking into a private park in the moonlight and attending a birthday dinner with her as his date.

Thacker’s extended family is eccentric and aloof but they provide him a support system that remains constant throughout the movie, in both the best of times and the worst of times. His nutty sister is played by Emma Chambers, and their friends are played by Hugh Bonneville, Tim McInnerny and Gina McKee. 

At the peak of the third-act conflict, Roberts delivers perhaps the most quotable line in the movie: “Don’t forget, I’m also just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her.” The line made it onto Hollywood.com’s 25 most romantic movie lines in 2014.

The film has a rating of 84% on the Rotten Tomatoes “Tomatometer” with an audience score of 79% and 7.2/10 on IMDB.

Grant and Roberts seem to, more or less, play themselves with only slight variations to their characters, bringing an acute authenticity to the film. Though the story is quite predictable — boy meets girl, they date, things fall apart and then patch themselves up at the two-hour mark — Grant and Roberts lean into the charm of the whole ordeal and make the movie worth watching this Valentine’s season.

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About the Contributors
Meg Frantz, Reporter
Meg Frantz (she/her) is a freshman digital journalism major, with a double minor in political science and criminal justice, from Charlotte, NC. This is her first year writing for The Appalachian.
Rian Hughes, Associate Graphics Editor
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