UK

Synopsis

William Thacker (HUGH GRANT) lives in Notting Hill, a very idiosyncratic Part of West London. Divorced, he thinks of himself as living a 'strange half-life' - he shares his house with a bizarre, unshaven Welshman named Spike (RHYS IFANS), and owns a distinctly unsuccessful travel bookshop in Portobello Road, the market street through the heart of Notting Hill.

Arriving at the bookshop one day, William is greeted by Martin (JAMES DREYFUS), his enthusiastic assistant, and as Martin goes off to get a cappuccino, he settles down to 'just another hopeless Wednesday'.

And then the door opens quietly. William looks up and is stunned to recognise his new customer as Anna Scott (JULIA ROBERTS), the world's most famous movie star. She buys a book, they exchange a word or two - and she leaves. That's it.

Dazed by the meeting, William walks to the local coffee shop to buy an orange juice. Leaving the shop and turning the corner he bumps straight into Anna - soaking her with orange juice.

In an attempt to placate this extremely angry and extremely wet movie star, William suggests she come to his nearby house to change. She agrees. William is a nervous but charming host and Anna leaves, angry no longer. Five seconds later she returns to collect a forgotten shopping bag -and then, in his corridor full of old bikes and a burnt ironing board, something extraordinary happens. She kisses him. Neither of them quite understands why. London's least successful bookshop owner has just been kissed by Hollywood's most successful actress.

A second later the speil is broken - Spike enters, very keen to grab some food and watch an Anna Scott video, unaware that the woman in the hall in dark glasses is the real Anna. Anna says
William shouldn't teil anyone what's just happened. He promises - 'I mean, teil myself 
sometimes - but don't worry, I won't believe it'. And she leaves.

The next day, William's life is back to normal - him and Spike and the dirty kitchen. A few days later, relaxing on the roof terrace, William casually asks Spike if there have been any phone messages. 'Oh yes', says Spike, 'some American girl called Anna rang. She's staying at the Ritz'.

William rings her - and then she invites him to her hotel room for tea. But when he turns up the timing has gone disastrously wrong - and he finds himself in the midst of a group of journalists waiting to interview Anna. He gets into a muddle, pretends he's from 'Horse & Hound' magazine - and has to interview her in front of her press secretary about a movie he hasn't seen. But in the end things work out - and to his astonishment, Anna agrees to go out with him that night - even though he is committed to going to a birthday dinner for his little sister Honey (EMMA CHAMBERS) at the house of his best friends, Max and Bella (TIM McINNERNY & GINA McKEE)

There follows every man' s dream - to arrive at the house of his friends with the most famous woman in the world on his arm. His friends' reactions cover the full spectrum - from Bernie (HUGH BONNEVILLE) who doesn't recognise her at all, to Honey whose first and loud reaction is 'Holy Puck!'

But in the end the evening goes well - William and Anna walk home together through the gardens of Notting Hill and exchange a serious kiss. The next day, they go to a movie - have dinner - and find themselves outside the Ritz again, late at night. Anna invites William up and he accepts - only to find, when he arrives at her room, that her famous boyfriend - about whom he knew nothing - has just flown in from America. Anna is mortified - William has to pretend that he's from room service and finally walks away with a tray of dirty dishes and a broken heart.

Everyone tries to comfort William - Spike, unsuccessfully, and his friends, who fix him up with a succession of diverse girls. But William can't seem to fall in love again - 'the chances of fmding someone you love, who actually loves you, are always minuscule'. He is resigned to life alone.

But then, out of the blue, aller six months, Anna returns. Naked photos taken when she was young and poor have been published by the tabloids and Anna is being hounded. She asks to stay until the hegt dies down. William agrees. They are locked in the house for a lost weekend. And they fall in love again, and sleep together for the first time.

The next moming, however, the idyll is abruptly shattered when they discover a crowd of baying press photographers camped on the doorstep. Anna is furious - totally angry - totally betrayed - suspecting Spike of telling the story - and leaves, never to return. William is left once more. Spike his only consolation. No consolation.

A year passes in the life of William and Notting Hill - and finally William believes he is over Anna. But he's not. When he hears from Max that she is back in London, filming on Hampstead Heath, William decides to take his heart in his hands one more time and visit her.

At first things go well - she is actually shooting a film he suggested she should do - and asks him to wait because 'there are things to talk about'. But then William is given some headphones to listen to the film dialogue and overhears her talking about him to another actor. She totally dismisses him as some embarrassing person from the past. 'Of course', he thiuks - of course. It was just a dream. And he walks away.

But the next day Anna arrives at the bookshop, and very simply asks him to consider the idea of their being together. She says that she was quite rightly hiding her feelings from her massively indiscreet fellow-actor. William, however, has been burned one too many times. He knows she would finally break bis heart. She lives in Beverly Hills - he lives in Notting Hill. Everyone in the world knows who she is - even his mother can't remember his name. He has to say `no'.

William once again looks to his friends for comfort. He teils them of his meeting with Anna and his decision to say no'. The more they discuss it, though, the more William realises he has made the wrong decision. In a desperate race to save the situation, they pile into Max's car and head for the Savoy Hotel where Anna is holding a press conference before leaving for America.

Making his way through a room packed with jostling journalists and television crews and with friends looking on nervously, William has just this one chance to get Anna back. In front of the world, he asks her if she would reconsider being with him. In front of the world , she says
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Roger Michell

Written by: Richard Curtis

Produced by: Richard Curtis, Eric Fellner, Duncan Kenworthy, Tim Bevan

Cinematography: Michael Coulter

Editing: Nick Moore

Production Design: Stuart Craig

Costume Design: Shuna Harwood

Hair & Make-up: Jenny Shircore

Original Score: Trevor Jones

Main Cast: Hugh Grant (William Thacker), Julia Roberts (Anna Scott)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Film 1999
  • EFA Feature Film Selection 1999