While it's hard to forget the cool, calculating mind set that shapes every second of this upfront attempt to repeat and enlarge on the box office success of Four Weddings and a Funeral, there's no denying that, as a romantic comedy playing up to our naivest, most innocuous fantasies, it is very enjoyable. The latter-day fairytale plotting is simple. When shy Portobello Road bookshop owner William Thacker (Grant) accidentally spills fruit juice over browsing Hollywood star Anna Scott (Roberts), it's the start of a tentative, faltering, on/off relationship. Nothing very unpredictable occurs as they wonder whether their deeply different lives might come together for more than a few moments, but enough neat conceits, nuances and gags ensure polished, engaging entertainment throughout. True, both Richard Curtis' well-honed script and Roger Michell's solid if somewhat academic direction depict W11 life from a complacently white, well-to-do perspective; true, also, that there are too many over-extended moments. Overall, however, it's an agreeably slick affair, with decent support performances, elegant camerawork, and several impressive set pieces.
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