Wednesday, August 18, 2010

She by Elvis Costello (from Notting Hill)

She is song of contradictions, embracing the complexities, the mystery and haunting power of a woman. Reminiscent of Billy Joel’s “She’s Always A Woman” (which I discussed in this earlier post), Costello performs a portrait that is beautiful not despite of its contradictions but because of them.

Originally recorded in 1974 by Charles Aznavour, “She” was a major hit in the United Kingdom reaching the top of the charts

Costello recorded the song for the 1999 film Notting Hill starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.

Modernizing the orchestral background creating a richer and warmer texture, Costello sing brings his punk rock-new wave edge to the song expressing the lyrics with a complex sense of frustration and wonder that perfectly reflects the film.

Notting Hill on the surface seems like a typical romantic comedy. Charmingly befuddle William Thacker (Hugh Grant), a small time book seller meets a huge Hollywood actor, Anna Scott played by Julia Roberts and they fall in love. Like a reverse Cinderella story the Princess makes the commoners dream come true. However this film is so much more than that.

Director Robert Mitchell creates a deliberately passes this film, has Julia Roberts have shockingly little dialogues and steers clear of the conventions that have made the Romantic Comedy the bane of the male movie going population.

William while at odds by the Hollywood lifestyle isn’t impressed by it. He has a sense of security and predictability in his life that Anna doesn’t.  Anna is insecure and venerable who is simply “just a girl standing in front of a boy asking her to love her” as Anna tells William in the end.

The trailers does a horrible job expressing the mood of the film. Rather check out this amazing scene which shows the passage of time simply through the changing weather as William walks down the street.

“She” bookends Notting Hill serving as both the introduction of the Anna Scott and closes the film celebrating the love the William and Anna find (yes, I spoiled the ending for you, two characters in a romantic comedy fall in love in the end)

The amazing part is how the song transforms through the course of the film as we take the journey with characters and resonates with us long after the film is over.  This is a rare example of when two art forms complement each other, trying them together in our memory creating an experience that makes us willing to a watch a Romantic Comedy. 

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