Combustible Celluloid
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With: Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant, Richard McCabe, Rhys Ifans, James Dreyfus, Dylan Moran, Tim McInnerny, Gina McKee, Emma Chambers, Hugh Bonneville, Emily Mortimer, Alec Baldwin, Mischa Barton
Written by: Richard Curtis
Directed by: Roger Michell
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content and brief strong language
Running Time: 124
Date: 05/12/1999

Notting Hill (1999)

3 Stars (out of 4)

The Starlet Letter

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Julia Roberts stars, in arguably her best role, as a lovable, glamorous movie star; Hugh Grant teams up with writer Richard Curtis for the second time, and we've got a winner. William Thacker (Grant) sells travel books in the title neighborhood, and Anna Scott (Roberts) -- in the neighborhood shooting a movie -- stops in for something to read. William's nervous charm makes an impression on her and an impossible romance is born. Curtis and director Roger Michell (far more intuitive than Four Weddings director Mike Newell) find all kinds of complex emotional entanglements having to do with celebrity, but they avoid the dark satire that could easily have resulted. Once again, the colorful supporting cast provides a welcome reality to William's fantasy life, and once again, Grant strikes up a remarkable chemistry with his co-star. Only a pandering ending ruins the spell. Alec Baldwin appears unbilled as Anna's obnoxious boyfriend.

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