The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain
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Index 76 reviews in total 

42 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

Simply Nice Feel-Good Film

9/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
16 February 2006

This was a very pleasant surprise, a nice movie with one of the simplest "plots" you'll ever see yet one that was fun to watch develop.

There are no nasty characters. They aren't all goody-goodies, either, but they're all interesting people to watch. The story is simply about a pair of cartographers (map makers) who measure a "hill" in Wales and much to the displeasure of the locals, it isn't tall enough to be considered a mountain, which is what the townsfolk always considered it. So, the locals work together to build it up so it will qualify to be officially labeled a mountain. Sounds simple and even stupid, but it isn't. Along the way, a romance buds between Hugh Grant and Tara Fitzgerald. There also is some nice cinematography in here.

Some might find it boring but I didn't. There was just something about this, a charm that made me feel good as I watched it and had me smiling even more by the end. This is a "sleeper," a movie you might pass up..... but don't.

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41 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

Well, I'm going to break the tie-- I vote YES.

Author: wcb from Redmond, WA
10 January 1999

Of the two comments so far, one is for, one against. Can't let that stand! I loved this movie. Not boring at all. Loved Hugh Grant (much better than in 4W&aFuneral). Loved EVERYBODY, even the dour surveyor. The humor is so subtle and insidious, the acting so underdone, the writing so sparkling, the plot so effervescently predictable in macro, but not in micro. The film score is wonderful, too, using as it does actual Welsh melodies rearranged into big 'movie soundtrack' full orchestration. And has there ever been a more beautiful cinematographic masterstroke than the torches on the mountain at sunset? I think not!

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34 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

a little known gem of a comedy

8/10
Author: bahrom1 from Canada
27 March 2001

Most people I've asked about this movie have never heard about it and I think it's a real shame. Set against picturesque background of Welsh countryside and leisurely paced this movie totally won me over with its gentle humor and its colorful and beautifully developed characters. I'm not a big fan of Hugh Grant but here he performs quite well. Besides he is not what makes this movie work.

I just love all the supporting characters - Thomas Twp and Tara Fitzgerald as Betty and of course the pair of local archnemesis Rev. Jones and Morgan the Goat. I've seen Colm Meany in a few movies and on TV (I think he plays in one of the Star Treck series) and I've never thought much about him as an actor but he is simply hilarious as Morgan.

So what is this movie about? There isn't much of a plot so without giving anything away I'll just say that it's about a sleepy Welsh village coming together for a noble cause. What's the cause and would you find it noble?

Watch the movie and judge for yourself.

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30 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Witty and wonderful!

Author: mountain-4
19 February 1999

I feel sorry for those folks who *don't get* this movie! Based on actual events around 1917, we are privileged to have a glimpse at what life was like in a small coal village in South Wales. The casting was superb! I especially liked the inter-action between Reverend Jones and Morgan. And who could possibly not love Tara Fitzgerald as Betty! The film starts out with some interesting trivia about how people got their names back then- very quaint yet logical to attach an occupation to their names! The photography was wonderful at showing off the unspoiled landscape- I really felt like I was a part of the events. This movie inspires me to want to visit the final resting place of Reverend Jones with a handful of earth from my own garden!

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25 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Highly favorable review

10/10
Author: Graham Howard from Northampton, Massachusetts
25 May 2000

A delightful, hugely underrated romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant. It's a crime that one of Hugh Grant's best films is hardly ever mentioned in interviews with him or articles about him, and is usually only listed in complete listings of Grant's films. Written and directed by Christopher Monger, and based on a (true?) story told to him by his grandfather, the film is set in rural South Wales during World War One. The story centers around two surveyors, one played by Grant, sent to map the terrain of South Wales. Using a village as a base, the surveyors redefine a local mountain as a hill, causing much consternation among the villagers. The villagers engage in devious activities to keep the surveyors in the village, while they literally add height to the hill to make it a mountain. Hugh Grant is on top form as the shy and inarticulate surveyor, and is helped by an excellent supporting cast. Beautiful cinematography and appropriately celtic music are icing on the cake of this thoroughly enjoyable film. Like "Local Hero", "The Englishman" is made in the style of the British Ealing comedies of the forties, and in this reviewers opinion, captures even more successfully the spirit of a small rural village taking on and beating the system.

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20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Hugh Grant - A Fine Comedy Actor

8/10
Author: Sion from Cardiff, Wales
24 January 1999

The Englishman....has just been shown again here in Cardiff. The cinema was packed yet again. The story is based on a story about a small place north of Cardiff. A lovely film indeed.The type of film I'm sure will be shown on BBC2 on Sunday afternoons for many years. The script was both moving and very funny and Hugh Grant shows that he is indeed a fine comedy actor.Tara Fitzgerald was very sexy as Betty and I also enjoyed the performances of Kenneth Griffith,Robert Pugh,Ieuan Rhys,Lisa Palfrey and Ian Hart. There is so much violence in the cinema these days it was so nice to enjoy a film with all my family. I hope to watch it again soon on video.

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17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

A gentle, affectionate portrait of a village in Wales

Author: Steve & Caroline Metcalfe from Sussex, UK
31 March 1999

This film is a gentle, affectionate portrait of a village in Wales, its people and its Mountain. Within the village, there are long standing feuds and traditions. Then, two Englishmen arrive with a job to do and history is made. It may or may not be based on a real Welsh village. The writer and many of the names in the credits have Welsh sounding names. The scenery is beautiful and the characters are delightfully observed. It is a piece set at the time of the First World War. It has echoes of Under Milk Wood, of The Shooting Party, and of Clochemerle. Kenneth Griffith was memorable in Clochemerle and plays the Reverend Jones in this film. At first, Hugh Grant seems to be playing yet another floppy haired, romantic hero, but as the film unfolds, there is greater depth to his character. The harsh reality of mining is simply portrayed and we are reminded of the heightened need for coal in wartime. The Great War itself casts a shadow over the whole village, making the film poignant and touching.

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18 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Wonderfully light little comedy with an eye on Ealing

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
27 January 2003

In 1919 the first world war is raging but in a small Welsh village two Englishmen arrive to measure the village's mountain. When a pre-assessment reveals a prediction of below 1000ft the villagers are worried – but are incensed when the official measurement is 20 feet shy of `mountain' and they find they now have a `hill' instead. They plot to keep the men in the village until they can pile enough earth on top of their hill to make it over 1000ft and win back their mountain.

This film starts strong with a great sense of humour that it can't quite sustain but is enough to win you over and get into the story. The romance doesn't come into the film until he second half but the whole film is very gentle and winning so that it all just flows together so very effortlessly. The humour at the top is a little sharper and it gets progressively slighter and mushier as it goes but it still works well. Anyone who loves the Ealing comedies should enjoy this, as it appears to aspire to that mould.

I really dislike Grant and find his whole stuttering, blinking act to be annoying most of the time – Mickey Blue Eyes is an example of the sort of performance that makes me want to give up hope for cinema. However here it works dammit! He does his usual stuff but it fits perfectly because his character has no malice and doesn't go against the stuttering etc. The support cast is rich with humour. Fitzgerald likewise keeps it all fizzy and superficial as the tone requires and Meaney is suitably funny. Griffith is very good and Hart is a surprising cameo even if his character is a little too serious for the piece.

Overall this is very slight and has a great feel of whimsy about it. If you're not in the mood for this sort of thing then it's light nature may annoy you but it was just the ticket for me and I really enjoyed it.

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Charming and Original

8/10
Author: Dairhenien from USA
28 February 2003

Those two adjectives say it all. Hugh Grant is at his best as a shy WWI era officer whose task it is to measure the mountains of Wales. He plays very well against Colm Meaney, a rogue and scoundrel who finds his better nature despite himself.

This film was crippled before an American audience because of its slow pace and long title. The humor is subdued, and often buried under accents that many moviegoers must have been unfamiliar with. But I believe this film only improves with repeated viewings. The actors do a uniformly good job, and play their characters with great heart.

The soundtrack stands out as one of the best as well. It adds to the mystery and beauty of the region and adds a unique feel to the film.

Children may find it too slow and dull, but anyone with an appreciation for a good, heartwarming story will enjoy it. I recommend it in particular to those with a love for the British Isles in general, or Wales in particular.

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A heartwarming story of hope in a time when there was little or nothing to celebrate

10/10
Author: cooperhmc from Christchurch, New Zealand
9 September 2005

This movie proved to me what a fine actor Ian Hart is. Never been a Hugh Grant fan because he is almost always the same in everything he does so the novelty of the " English Fop" has worn off for me. Tara Fitzgerald always plays the sexy girl and, to be honest, I have never been a fan of her acting style, despite doing a good welsh accent. No, this film for me, which, despite my criticism of the leads, is one of my favorite movies because of its fantastic supporting cast. Colm Meaney is always good value and Ian Mcniece always adds quality to everything he does. However, getting back to my opening statement, it was Ian Hart's performance that moved me the most. It goes to prove that you don't have to have many lines or a leading role to turn in a masterful performance. In every scene he appeared in, he just excelled. To portray someone who has suffered the horrors of the trenches of World War 1 is not easy and it would have been easy to overdo it but he doesn't. The scene on top of the mountain after the lightning strike where, mentally, he is transported back to the horrors of the trenches, was truly moving. When Williams brings him back to the pub, again, despite what is going on with other characters and their dialog, we are drawn to him. He truly owns the scene.

In every scene that we see him in, it is the haunted look that we see on his face, in his eyes, that truly captures the underlying theme of this movie - the desire for something good to come out of such hard times; a community that has lost so much desperately trying to recapture its pride by ensuring Ffynnon Garw is retained as Wales first mountain. Johnny is one that came home when the rest of the villages young men are unlikely to. He is one that the village is trying to cling onto although, most of the time, he is just beyond their reach. He is there in the flesh but not truly in spirit.

Pivotal moments - standing up and speaking about the trenches at the village meeting. I loved the Reverand Jones reaction to Johnny speaking - the tears in his eyes, trying not to break down. Johnny is the one, probably the only one in the village, who is able to make the Reverand and Morgan the Goat set aside their differences.

I loved the shot of Johnny after the breakdown when the voice-over speaks of the days of rain that followed. In one frame, Hart perfectly captures the haunted and damaged young man that Johnny is.

I loved it when Johnny tells the School teacher to " Stop acting so English"

and I absolutely ADORED Johnny's epiphany near the end of the movie where he decides it is time to stop being afraid and face his fear. The camera zooming right into him so that the entire screen is his. The village applauding his arrival to the top of the mountain was magical. One of their sons was home at last. He was finally back with them.

Of course you could just see this movie as a heart warming comedy - and sure, it can be enjoyed this way but I would urge all of you, if not already, to go back and watch it again from the perspective I have illustrated.

As an actor, Ian Hart is a master, and in his portrayal as "Johnny Shell Shocked", a master is truly at work. Any aspiring actor would do well to get this man's entire back catalog on DVD to see how it ought to be done.

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