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he rom-com is much maligned, but when done well, it’s a movie that simply…sparkles.A good romantic comedy is the cinema’s equivalent of an SSRI; it will instantly uplift your mood, without the nasty side effects.
Eleven years after its release, it’s as charming as ever.
Part of it has to do with Notting Hill’s structure–it’s extremely solid, and well-worth analyzing even if you have no aspiration to write a romantic comedy.
Finally, Notting Hill is timeless because it takes the tropes found in many a romantic comedy, and specifically tweaks them so that they become unique to the world Curtis created, the world in which an average bloke can win the heart of a major movie star.
Curtis is notorious for being a perfectionist, as you can see from this anecdote provided by Hugh Grant.
“During the lowest ebbs of shooting Four Weddings and a Funeral, Richard Curtis used to cheer me up by talking about the new film he was hatching, and what funny scenes he’d already thought up for me.
And in the years that followed, as I sat around flicking the pages of Congo II and thinking ‘maybe there is something here,’ the only thing that kept me from signing on the dotted line was the thought that Richard’s new script was just around the corner. Never has a human being taken longer to write a perfectly straightforward romantic comedy. I called it sloppy and sent him angry faxes urging him to drop Rowan Atkinson, The Vicar of Whatsit, his own children, and the world’s starving…and concentrate on me.” With so many drafts ostensibly written during those several years, you’d think I’d be able to find at least one of them floating around, but I was able to uncover only two drafts of the screenplay–one on the internet which deviated from the movie perhaps a total of three times.
The other was the official published version of the script, nicely bound and published by Hodder & Stoughton.While the book provided some lovely tidbits (Hugh Grant’s Congo story being one of them), the script in the book seems to have been written to reflect the way the movie was eventually cut…and as such, doesn’t reveal any screenplay vs film screenwriting tips.I suspect that like Back to the Future, it will stand the test of time.There are many reasons for Notting Hill’s timelessness.Part of it has to do with the timelessness of the humor.Very little of the comedy is reliant upon cutting edge pop culture references.