Brad Pitt boxing, Playboy bunnies, and a boy singing Killing Me Softly… what do they have in common? Why, they are some of the most well known British movies set in London! So if you have moved to the big capital and you want to be either a geezer, a romantic singleton, or Hugo Weaving in a mask, then check out this kick ass guide to the Top 5 British Movies set in London!
1: About A Boy
The movie that made Hugh Grant tolerable. Crikey. The film, based on Nick Hornby’s book, features a strong cast of (a tolerable) Hugh Grant, Toni Collette, and a young Nicholas Hoult, a more innocent Nicholas Hoult that existed before the fornicating frenzy that was Skins. It is, by turns, a funny, charming, and touching story that pulls at the heart strings, as much as a story about a womanizing schmoozer can pull at the heart strings. Brad Pitt turned down a role in the move because he didn’t believe a very attractive man would have to pretend to have a child in order to pull women. All in all, a wonderful British movie set in London!
2: Notting Hill
I’m just a blogger, standing in front of you, dear reader, asking you to love me. And so the movie is a saccharine, soppy, and – depending on your point of view – soporific addition to the list. It’s a film that was also responsible for the Ronan Keating single that went platinum in three countries (the UK, Australia, and Norway). If you are willing to be swept along by the romance, it’s a cute love story across the class system reborn into a story where a lowly bookshop owner falls for a Hollywood celebrity. The story is sprinkled with offbeat characters and enough chance encounters to make the plot work. It’s a piece that celebrates a London neighbourhood, a movie that features a half naked Welshman, and an escapism that will make you happy for a couple of hours. Happiness isn’t happiness, after all, without violin playing goats, and your London experience isn’t an experience without the Spotahome blog.
3: 28 Days Later
This low budget Danny Boyle flick stars Irish pretty boy Cillian Murphy, a pre-James Bond Naomie Harris, and a lot of zombies. It’s a good mix, and it’s worthy of its place on a list of the Best British movies set in London. And what a London it is. The standout sequence in the film is the opening scene where Murphy trundles through an eerily empty city. They filmed it very early in the morning, and they paid drunken revellers making their way home from a night out to stay off the street. Thus, it’s not that hard to imagine a Zombie apocalypse, you just have to get up very early. Or watch this movie. Interesting tidbit: to convince people and drivers to stay out of the way of filming, they sent very attractive women to ask them. It worked very successfully. Overall, it’s a modern take on the Zombie trope, and one whose visuals were influenced by real, historical events.
4: V For Vendetta
The movie that spawned the famous Anonymous mask [I like it, please don’t attack me online]. V For Vendetta references London quite extensively, drawing inspiration from the Guy Fawkes plot, while also showing famous landmarks. Hugo Weaving, also, based his accent on former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, while John Hurt, another actor in the movie, likened the story to a cross between 1984 and Aliens, and this darkly dystopian film is a far cry from About A Boy and Notting Hill, two more innocent films on this list. The famous dominoes scene near the story’s denouement demonstrates the visual flourish of the film, and the air of derring-do that faintly subverts Errol Flynn roles and movies like The Scarlet Pimpernel. That scene, by the way, required 200 hours and 22,000 dominos!
Brad Pitt did more for gypsy boxers than a whole raft of boxing call outs on YouTube. There are unconfirmed reports that caravan sales spiked around the release of this movie. Guy Ritchie is in fine form as the writer and director of this black comedy piece, a movie heavy with bosses and their heavies, a gambling addicts, thugs, and the criminal underclass jockeying for position. It’s a tale told with the tongue firmly lodged in the cheek. Pitt steals the show and he speaks in an impenetrable accent only because he couldn’t master a London one. This movie is a classic, so watch it before ze Germans come and stop you, and it is a love letter to the cartoonish caricature of the city that we know and love. Movie Trivia: Sean Connery was slated to play Brick Top but he was too expensive!
Honourable mentions go to Sliding Doors, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Alfie, and Closer.
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