In this charming and polished romantic comedy, screenplay writer Richard Curtis has concocted a spiffy follow-up to the wildly popular Four Weddings and a Funeral. Narrator William Thacker (Hugh Grant) runs a travel bookstore in Notting Hill, a suburb of London, and lives in a house with Spike (Rhys Ifans), a scruffy and rather daft Welshman. His uneventful life is turned upside down when Anna Scott (Julia Roberts), an internationally famous movie star who earns $15 million a picture, walks into his bookstore and steals his heart.

Director Roger Michell makes the most of the social disparity between the celebrity and the self-deprecating underachiever. Two very funny sequences illustrate their very different worlds. In one, William finds himself in the middle of a press junket for her new film and has to pretend to be a journalist from Horse and Hound magazine to see her. In the other, she attends a birthday party for William's younger sister (Emma Chambers), much to the astonishment of all the other guests.

The relationship between the screen goddess and the shy bookseller goes through some ups and downs brought on by the arrival of her famous actor boyfriend (Alec Baldwin) and her personal crisis when the press goes crazy over some nude photographs of her taken when she was younger. The finale of this fairy tale romance reveals that what many of us — even famous people — desire is a return to the garden of paradise where we can spend a quiet afternoon ensconced in the peaceful presence of the person we love.