London is one of my favourite cities and it’s where lots and lots of movies are filmed. Recently I caught most of Notting Hill on television. Another romantic comedy, another chick flick and another one of my favourites. This one is mainly filmed in the Notting Hill district of London just to the northwest of Hyde Park. It’s famous for the Portobello Road antiques market and for the annual Notting Hill Festival every summer. The area has a large West Indian population but in the movie, Notting Hill, you might be forgiven if you thought it was very white.
There are lots of scenes of the streets in and around the neighbourhood including Portobello Road itself. Of course, the shops and restaurants you see in the movie are fictitious but some of the storefronts used are still there. The gardens can also be found in the area but as in the film, are also private so you can’t go in them. There are also some other locations elsewhere in the city including a stately home in Hampstead, the Ritz Hotel, the Savoy Hotel and Leicester Square.
The movie is about a man, William, who runs a little travel bookstore. He runs into a famous American actor, Anna Scott. He is smitten instantly. She likes him too, because he’s genuine and charming and while he’s star struck at first, he’s not in it for the celebrity. He just likes her for who she is, not for her image on the screen. He has a zany sister, and nice, yuppified friends who also treat her like ordinary folk once they get over the shock of meeting her. She has a truckload of complications that come along with her, including a dolt of a boyfriend and all the media attention on her which makes things difficult.
The cast is excellent, with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts taking the leads and supported by the most excellent and wacky Rhys Ifans as “William’s” flatmate. Most of the actors that play William’s friends and his sister are familiar faces to those of us that watch a lot of British movies and series. There’s great chemistry on screen between them all.
It’s a love story and it’s standard issue, you know they’ll get together in the end. Will they live happily ever after? Who knows? But if you want to see this part of London, it’s got lots to look at. All the times I’ve been to London and I’ve not yet managed to get myself to the Notting Hill area to investigate the little shops and the pretty terraces. Maybe next time!
Meanwhile here’s a closer look at the locations used.