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There goes the neighbourhood

By society editor Wolfgang Bang

Posted July 05, 2012
new richard curtis film about time filmed in st austell cornwall
St Austell town centre: It's a Poundland now if you fancy going shopping there, Mr Curtis. © DJ NRG Raver

Not content with ripping the heart out of London's Notting Hill, millionaire luvvie Richard Curtis has now begun filming another sack full of shite in Cornwall.

Richard Curtis's latest time-travelling rom-com About Time is being filmed at Porthpean House on the former Duporth Holiday Village site just outside St Austell, an economic black hole that also happens to be the largest population centre in Cornwall, itself one of the poorest parts of the UK.

Not that the town's languishing malaise will probably matter much to the film's stars, which apparently include Domhnall Gleeson as the lead, Rachel McAdams as the leading lady, Bill Nighy, Margot Robbie, Lydia Wilson and Vanessa Kirby, whoever they are, and Tom Hollander, who at least to his credit played the F--ker in Armando Iannucci's The Thick of It.

Already Curtis and his partner Emma Freud have been seen swanning about the financial wasteland in an open-top Bentley, no doubt doing their bit 'to make poverty history'.

As with his film Notting Hill, Mr Curtis will more than likely ignore the festering quagmire of urban hell to be found just an empty Bolly bottle's throw away off set.

At the same time as the film was announced, the local rag crowed of a new 99-pence store opening in the blighted town centre (think 1980s Beirut but without the sunshine).

The gulf between middle-class, dream-factory, coke-snorting horrors making a tepid fantasy feel-good flick and a town whose population festers in a horrible, cultureless, charity-shop slumber where cheap alcohol, heroin, violence, ignorance and inertia make up for their total lack of curiosity seems rather apt.

Hugh Grant once cringingly said in Notting Hill, another Curtis abomination, "It's as if I've taken love heroin, and now I can't ever have it again."

Well, he can buy lots of the real stuff in St Austell.

Or love methadone if he's trying to kick it.

Fortunately, Grant isn't actually appearing in About Time but you can still imagine what toss that Curtis is probably going to come out with given his track record1.

The film will almost certainly ignore anything to do with local people, local history or local culture, but then such things aren't what his 'films' are about.

After all, Notting Hill, which detailed some slushy love bollocks taking place in an area of London with long-established black, Irish and punk populations, managed to vomit on for 124 minutes as though it were filmed inside a WASPs-only wine bar with the shutters down.

The point of his new film will no doubt be to combine a PC rom-com with "ooh, Mr Darcy, look at my big bustle".

Rather spiffing men in top hats and birds wearing diaphanous flimsy dresses yet all the while checking their FaceBook status on their Blackberries.

A full giro says it'll be shit and probably involve some tie-in with the dreadfully self-important Eden Project.

But it's Cornwall and it's really romantic and it'll really raise the profile of the town.

Well, if they have a run on property prices the same way they had in Ladbroke Grove after Notting Hill, which is now just totally sterile thanks to all the people who moved up from Knightsbridge on the back of that atrocious film...


1) Apart from one gem in the form of The Black Adder (the first series of Blackadder that was written without Ben Elton), Curtis's portfolio of drivel includes such insipid explorations of comfortable vanilla nicety as Four Weddings and a Puke Bucket, Puke Actually and the dire The Boat That Rocked (and in Turn Induced Yet More Puke).

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