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Notting Hill - Scene Analysis.

Updated on June 21, 2012

Notting Hill Scene Analysis.

Notting Hill

Scene Analysis

At the beginning of the film we see a montage of the famous actress Anna Scott,( Julia Robert’s character) living a glamorous life. This helps to identify the successful character of Anna and theme of the movie; is it possible for a movie star to fall for an ordinary guy?

Then we learn about William, (Hugh Grant’s character) as he talks about meeting Anna. We learn that William was left by his wife and now lives with his friend Spike. This introduces the ordinary character of William and also the wound that he suffers that has created a psychic scar that makes it difficult for him to find love.

We meet William at home with Spike as they talk about romance. Spike has clearly different views about it as he wears different t-shirts with differing slogans. This shows the sad existence of William clearly wants love but unable to open up to it. Spike in contrast has a character all too eager to embrace his sex life. But William is clearly romantic and looks for good things in life.

Next William is at work in an unsuccessful book shop. Anna Scott happens to walk in. Same time a customer tries to steal a book. William threatens to call the Police then lets off the thief. Thief asks Anna for a date but is turned down before he leaves. Wiliam’s character is shown to be weak. He cannot go through with his threat. Even the thief has the courage to ask Anna for a date, William does not. .

William’s shop assistant friend returns to show he is obsessed with famous people but unknowledgeable. This is the inciting incident that changes William’s life when Anna walks into his shop. Character is unsuccessful running the shop in contrast to Anna’s success. He is clearly a forgiving man by letting off the thief which makes him more likeable. Anna is not about to fall for any thief. William’s shop assistant friend highlights the culture of celebrity and how some people embrace it. Anna buys a book and leaves showing William’s task will not be that easy.

William leaves the shop to fetch coffee and bumps into Anna spilling coffee on her. He offers her his place to clean up.  This is an important plot point that they are forced to spend more time together.

William and Anna go to William’s flat. William is forced to clean up as Anna comes out changed. They share a drink but William is clumsy. She leaves but returns for her bag and kisses him. William apologises for his behaviour and Spike who enters and ignores them. We learn that Anna is interested in William. Also that William is clumsy around women because of his past. And Spike’s character is not interested in movie stars.

William and Spike watch Anna’s movie and admire her work. This highlights the success of Anna in popular movies in contrast to Williams’s  life. Anna’s successful nature is clear but ironic the movies may be popular not always critical success..

Later in the bookshop a man asks William for a Dickens book but William apologises that it is only a travel shop and passes him to his assistant.  Shows William considers his shop lower class because of the type of books it sell and irony that the man wants good fiction in a travel shop.

At home Spike is dressed in a wet suit on the roof, William asks him for messages. Spike is clearly terrible with messages and mentions Anna called days ago with another name, staying at the Ritz. William calls Anna and Spike remembers her name. William asks to come round for tea. One obstacle of William meeting Anna again is Spike’s failure to pass on messages. Spike is shown as a care-free character that William could become if he does not change his life. Anna stays at the Ritz another example of her money.

William travels to meet Anna at the Ritz by bus.  Only a brief scene but shows the irony that the poor William is forced to travel to meet the rich Anna at the posh Ritz on the cheapest transport.

William enters the Ritz and goes to Anna’s room. He has to pose as a magazine critic and is given five minutes to see her. Adds a barrier to the love of Anna and William and one he must overcome and the time limit adds extra tension.

William’s flowers are small in comparison to the others. This is an ironic contrast, symbol of his world and hers.

Anna’s assistant enters and William has to pretend to ask questions about the film.  Left alone again Anna apologises for kissing him and he compliments her and wants to kiss… but is interrupted. Anna sounds unsure about the relationship and William has to work hard for her.

William leaves and is shown to another bunch of actors to continue the pretence of being a critic. Comic irony that he is forced to interview other actors and being taken deeper into Anna’s world.

William is summoned back to Anna and she asks him out. He has his sister’s party to go to and Anna wants to join him. Irony that he gets to dates a superstar like Anna but they will go to a simple meal with his sister. She is now venturing into his world.  

Max and Bella are in the kitchen preparing dinner. This is the normal world of William were they fend for themselves in contrast to Anna’s world.  

William and Anna arrive and comedy ensues as none of them expect to see Anna or expect William to be dating a famous actress. Honey recognises her and wants to be her best friend.  Bernie arrives after a mistake at work. They are all in contrast to the successful Anna.

William’s friends embarrass themselves with Anna; Bernie does not recognise her and Honey walks into the loo with her. Max declares them all under achievers compared to Anna. This is demonstrating the theme and the contrast between a successful person and someone less so. Bernie demonstrates against the theme because he is unsuccessful and has not found love. Honey declares herself least successful because she earns nothing and only attracts cruel men. Bella states her case because she is in a wheelchair and cannot have a baby. Then William is declared the worst success because they cannot see Anna staying with him.

Anna opens up about the problems of being an actress. They all dismiss this.  Shows that Anna has flaws too she is trying to deal with.

Anna and William walk home and talk about Belle in her wheelchair.  Anna has become more involved in William’s world allowing William to overcome his flaw.

William invites Anna home but it is too complicated. This shows that William has not achieved his goal there are still hurdles.

Anna challenges William to enter the private gardens. She wants him to break the rules and prove his love. If William can accept the challenge he can prove the theme that an ordinary man can be with a star.

William embarrasses himself as he tries to enter the garden and shows his dated vocabulary. This shows that William still lives in the past. It shows his lack of confidence because of his flaw and awkwardness with women.

Anna easily enters the garden. This demonstrates Anna dominance in the relationship and that she is prepared to take a risk.

They read an inscription on a bench of a loving couple. This is a romantic moment between William and Anna and seems to support the theme, they can be together.

William looks his glasses as he is going to the cinema.  Unable to find his glasses he ends up with Anna wearing his swimming goggles. It is ironic he is going on a date with an actress to the cinema. It shows William still as a sad character.

William and Anna visit a smart Japanese restaurant. This is more like Anna’s world of high cuisine.

William talks about his wife left him because she saw through him. This is the wound that let to his psychic scar and the reason he is like what he is.

William and Anna hear other customers in the restaurant run down Anna. William confronts them but is laughed at. This shows William’s failure to handle being the boyfriend of a superstar. Anna takes charge again and pulls him away.

Anna insults the rowdy customers with style. Anna shows she has style and able to handle the situation.

Anna and William talk again as they walk home. This time Anna questions her actions and whether she should be with William. It is ironic that Anna now questions her ability to be with William.

Anna invites William up to her room but tells him to give her five minutes. It is another invite for William to enter Anna’s world. The hook is the fact she has asked to give him to give her five minutes. 

William enters her hotel room and kisses her. It seems at last he has succeeded with Anna.

Anna tells William her boyfriend is in the next room. This is the major twist, after all these attempts to woo her he discovers she has a boyfriend.

William pretends to be room service in front of the handsome boyfriend. He has not conquered his flaw at all and the irony is that they both feel for each other but she has a boyfriend. Also the boyfriend is a handsome actor.

William travels home distraught. He has been slammed with the news she has a boyfriend. His psychic wound is still there.

William watches Anna at the cinema. William is unable to forget Anna and is still in the same position as before but worse. He has been hurt.

Spike tries to lighten the mood. Spike’s character is carefree in contrast to William who is down.

William dines out with his friends. Not only has William lost Anna but now all his friends know she had a boyfriend.

William is forced to go on dates to get over Anna. One date is wild, one is a fruitarian and third is perfectly nice but William feels unable to love. Admits to two loves in his life; his wife and the woman his best friend married. Further evidence of the wound that caused the scar,  that not only did William’s wife leave him but also his best friend married his other love.

William stays with Max and Bella before leaving the morning after noticing pictures of Anna in the tabloids. This is another example of a slam like he is being punished for his date.

William answers the door at home to find Anna in a less than perfect state. She explains about the nude photographs. Irony that the only place Anna can come is to William’s place because the press are after her.

Spike walks in on Anna in the bath. Irony is the carefree Spike is reading about Anna in the papers.

Later Anna and William talk about each other. She explains she left her boyfriend. Anna confesses when she keeps things normal they are a disaster, a wound of her own.

William helps Anna with her script. William is unimpressed with the quality of the work. Highlights there are more differences between Anna and William. He prefers classics like Henry James orJane Austin. The difference is highlighted by William’s choice of art also. Anna seems attracted to this side of William.

Anna discusses her work and makes it sound mundane and normal. Differences between Anna and William do not look so big.

They go to bed separately. Shows William is too afraid to he will get hurt.

Spike appears and questions William while he is not taking his chance with Anna. This demonstrates the fact William is too afraid to take the risk. Also shows Spike is the complete opposite and willing to have a go.

Anna finally appears and falls into the arms of William. Once again it is Anna who comes to William.

William and Anna wake up together. Anna is afraid he is unhappy to wake up with the real Anna but he is not. Anna clearly has insecurities of her own that make her this driven actress.

Anna brings William breakfast in bed on a tray. This is the reason Anna and William should be together because she wants to do the normal things. He is happy for her to take this role although he is not addressing his flaw. 

William opens the door to a bunch of Paparazzi. Another ironic slam against William after the perfect night he now has to face the consequences.

Anna plots her escape. Spike poses for the photographers in his underpants. Anna is worried about her career over her new relationship. Spike’s character remains carefree.

Anna is angry with William and blames him for the confusion. Press still think she has a boyfriend. Anna blames him. William is being dragged into the world of Anna. William is timid because of the scars in the past and unable to defend himself. Anna is scared herself and not able to see the truth. This is an obstacle to the couple getting together.

William wants Anna to calm down and get a perspective. He mentions the fact his friend fell down stairs and that is the reason she is in a wheelchair. William seems still affected by his friends injury that he is unable to let it go and let love in his life. Anna is unable to return to a normal life because of her career, a reason why they cannot be together. The very character in William that attracts Anna is the same quality that means they cannot be together. This is proving against the theme that an ordinary man and a star cannot be together.

Spike confesses to telling people down the pub about Anna. This shows the carefree nature of Spike who doe not think about his consequences.

William’s life continues without Anna. Honey is seen with a meeting and then breaking up with a new boyfriend.  William is at his lowest point as life goes on around him. William is at an all time low as he has experienced the love of Anna but lost her for good. He thought he had learned to love again overcome his flaw but he had not. Weather starts off from rain and then brightens up symbolising the seasons.

Honey offers William the number of Anna’s agent. William takes the paper and throws it away. He has not overcome his flaw.

William has a meal with his friends. They meet at Tony’s place, who is having to close. Bernie announces he has been fired. Bella makes a speech about how some things work out, some get lucky. This reflects the state of William and Anna, he had is shot but it did not work out. William seems happy to be amongst his unsuccessful friends.

Honey and Spike get together. Honey has overcome her flaw of dating the wrong men by dating Spike. It highlights to William that a character like Spike can find love.

William declares himself over Anna until Max announces she is filming in London. William is still trying to fight his flaw and hasn’t got over Anna. This is a mental slam against his psyche.

William travels to Hampstead Heath to try to see Anna but is blocked by security.  She comes over to him but is under pressure to get to work. This is a physical barrier against his goal. The tension is created by the fact she needs to get back to work.

Anna stars in a Henry James film. Anna has achieved her goal of starring in a classic story. This is in contrast to William who has failed in his goal. She is the success where is the failure.

William overhears Anna dismiss him as someone from the past.  This is the final slam against the flaw of William. He has tried to overcome his flaw with Anna but has been rejected, which hits him hard. He is unlikely to recover from this bitter blow.  

William has hit another low as he clears out Anna’s videos. William has given up on his goal to win back Anna. He is at his lowest point in the movie having tried to be successful he has failed. 

Anna arrives in William’s shop as a twist. They are interrupted by the annoying customer. This would be the start of the third act, a twist to see Anna arrive with a present. The irony they are interrupted by the same annoying customer.

William’s Mum phones as Anna tries to explain how she feels. Further barrier to the two of them finally getting together and Anna explains she had to lie about him to her colleagues.

William declines Anna’s offer because he is afraid he will get hurt again. She tries to get him to see that she is just a girl looking for love. He admits to his flaw but is unable to address it. She is the perfect cure for his flaw but he cannot get over her fame. The reason they cannot be together.

William is back at Tony’s and wants reassurance he made the right decision. Spike tells him he is a prick. The painting turns out to be the real article.  The others agree he made a mistake and William acknowledges it. The carefree Spike character tells the truth to William.  William recognises that in order to cure his flaw he should accept Anna’s offer.

William and friends drive off to find Anna. This is the climax of the film. William knows what he has to do.

They arrive at the Ritz. William has learnt Anna uses false names but chooses the wrong name. He is helped by the hotel man.  The irony is that William is back at the hotel where they met before. It seems he is about to fail at his goal but has some luck.

But Anna is holding a press conference at the Savoy. This is a final barrier to the two of them getting together.

Spike holds up the traffic so they can get there. Spike’s character too has shown growth and he has become a hero in William’s moment of need.

Bella helps William get past the security because she is in a wheelchair. This is ironic that the woman who caused William’s flaw has now helped him to overcome it.

In the press conference William asks Anna if there could be more with the gentleman from London. Assistant almost stops him asking another question. Even here there is a barrier to William asking her out.

William and his friends all find love.  Characters have completed their growth. William has overcome his flaw. Spike has found love too.

William and Anna marry and we finish with them happy and Anna pregnant. Final scenes of the movie prove the theme that a normal guy can be happy with a superstar.



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