Like most good British romantic comedies, it’s the cast. In this case the two lead actors: Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. Hugh Grant is the quintessential romantic comedy lead. If he had been in the troop of travelling players in Hamlet he would have been the actor for Plautus but not for Seneca. He is perfectly pitched for this film, as is Julia Roberts.
Who else could deliver the line (ranked as one of the top 10 corniest lines of all times) “I’m also just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her”? Can you imagine Cate Blanchett being able to do that? I suspect it would be completely beyond her.
Julia Roberts delivers one of the corniest lines of all times in Notting Hill
Full marks to the director Roger Michell, he has the perfect balance between the demands of the plot and the talents of his actors. This is no better seen than in the wonderful birthday party scene, slightly uncomfortable but wonderfully mushy in the romantic comedy way.
Michell is also helped by a wonderful supporting cast: Emma Chambers, Hugh Bonneville, Tim McInnerny, Rhys Ifans as the appalling Spike, Gina McKee and James Dreyfus.
Rhys Ifans as Spike: pure gold