8 Movies To See Before You Visit London
London. One of the worlds truly great cities. From Piccadilly Circus to Paddington, the Tower of London to Hampstead Heath, there's something for everyone in the United Kingdom's capital city. So as you prepare to get lost in Camden Market or wander around Soho, here's a few movies to get you acquainted with London.
One of the quintessential British romantic comedies of the 2000's, Richard Curtis' Love, Actually packs pretty much every well-known British film star of the time into a somehow workable plot that is equal parts funny and romantic. Sporting stars like Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy and Hugh Grant, the real star is the city itself. With scenes in Heathrow Airport, Selfridges, Trafalgar Square and Grosvenor Chapel, Love, Actually is a fun starting point for any London cinematic journey.
Known more for films in New York City, Woody Allen's thrilling tale of love, intrigue and betrayal in London might just be some of his best work of the era. Match Point stars Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Emily Mortimer romping around Chelsea, Covent Garden, Belgravia and the Tate Modern. Much more of a thrilling affair, Match Point will keep you guessing until the very end.
Breaking And Entering
Keeping with the same thematics as Match Point, Anthony Minghella's Breaking And Entering features Jude Law, Juliette Binoche and Rafi Gavron living and working in the Kings Cross area of London. A story of immigrants from Sarajevo who've settled into a part of London caught in the throes of gentrification, the Rowley Way building Gavron's character lives in may be a bit familiar to fans of 2014's Kingsman: The Secret Service.
The first of the two period films on the list, Lone Scherfig's An Education features Carey Mulligan as young woman in the 1960's that is seduced by an older man. With scenes set in Soho, Ealing and Twickenham, the Guardian named it one of their "10 Best Films Set In London." A moving coming-of-age film, An Education looks at the suburban side of London and typical 60's family life. A must see.
Shaun Of The Dead
Also set in the suburbs of London, Shaun of the Dead kicks off director Edgar Wright's so-called Cornetto trilogy with all the blood, gore and laughter you can handle. Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in a soon to be post apocalyptic zombie wasteland, Shaun of the Dead manages to look at the hum drum life of average London suburbanites content with spending all their time at home or in the pub. But, you know, with zombies and stuff. It's really good.
Another one from Richard Curtis, About Time mixes romance with time travel and family drama. Shot at locations along South Bank and in the Royal Courts of Justice, the film casually floats its sci-fi realm amidst the hustle and bustle of London. Featuring a great soundtrack, and the song that my wife and I first danced to at our wedding, About Time is a must see, especially if your planning to travel outside of London as well.
A Royal Night Out
For the history buff, 2015's A Royal Night Out looks at Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret as they join the country's celebration of V.E. Day in 1945. Rounding out the period films on the list, A Royal Night Out manages to show off World War II era London in all its splendor. Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire and Chatsworth House in Derbyshire serve as the interior of Buckingham Palace, but since they don't normally do tours, you'd probably never know the difference.
About A Boy
Adapted from Nick Hornby's coming-of-age tale, boy and man, About A Boy takes place in Islington in the book but for the film Clerkenwell does a fine stand in. Hugh Grant, Toni Collette and a young Nicholas Hoult are pitch perfect in this semi-dark comedy from the directors of American Pie (yes, that American Pie.)
With so many great options to choose from, I'm bound to have missed some great ones. Let me know which London movie is your favorite in the comments below.