An A-level geography survey has revealed a majority of Notting Hill residents think the Richard Curtis rom-com doesn’t do justice to west London’s thriving diversity.
Emily Phillips, a 17-year-old student from West London, always had a soft spot for the film as her father and aunt, actress Sally Phillips, once lived there together.
When the film was re-released on Netflix last Valentine’s Day, Emily began to question if viewers truly believe the film version of Notting Hill mirrored reality.
Emily said: “Netflix has millions of customers so you’re kind of faced with this thing where the film has the potential to completely shape people’s opinions of the area.”
Keen to tap into local opinion, Emily set about asking Notting Hill residents whether they thought the movie actually represented the place they call home.
According to her survey of 405 residents, which is around 10% of the total population of Notting Hill, 70% disagreed.
Emily explained: “A lot of people were saying that the film is completely whitewashed, and that it doesn’t show any of the ethnic diversity that the locals of Notting Hill are so proud of.
“Almost everyone said they consider Notting Hill to be a diverse area, which combats the presentation of the film with all-white main characters and pretty much all white peripheral characters.
“It romanticizes Notting Hill, quite vastly, and gives a very sanitized image of a spotless area when in real life it is not by any means.”
The results of Emily’s survey echo a greater trend of seeing how old films age under modern scrutiny.
Earlier this month Olivia Newton-John, 72, best known for her role as Sandy in Grease, came under fire for defending it against critics who view the song lyrics as ‘sexist’ and ‘misogynistic’.
So is it fair to hold classic movies to account today? To an extent, Emily thinks so.
She said: “Because it has such a lifetime this film, and will continue to have such a lifetime, I thought it was important to figure out the impact of it.
“We watch films and reread things, we see plays and stuff through a perspective of shifting morals and ideals.
“But I do think it’s unfair to scrutinize them very harshly. At the time, the film probably spoke a lot of truth to the area.”
Feature Image: Bethany Opler