Barry Jenkins may have taken home last year’s Oscar for best picture, but he isn’t above enjoying a rom-com on a plane like the rest of us.
The Moonlight director was on a trans-Atlantic flight Wednesday when he noticed that the woman next to him had just started watching Notting Hill—the 1999 movie about a regular British bookstore owner (Hugh Grant) who falls in love with an A-list American celebrity (Julia Roberts) after she walks into his shop and spills something on her clothes. Ah, cinema. Even though he’d heard about it over the years, Jenkins had never seen the iconic romantic comedy, so he decided to enjoy his in-flight cocktail and watch along with his seatmate.
Since the woman was listening on headphones and he was watching in secret, Jenkins didn’t have access to the audio, which added an extra level of difficulty to understanding the plot. Luckily, he livetweeted the whole thing.
In other news, the woman next to me is watching NOTTING HILL. A few choice folks will get the irony of this happening on my last flight of this sojourn. Also… Julia Roberts is STUNNING in this film. And holy shit Lester Freamon is in this?!— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) January 4, 2018
Within the first few minutes, Jenkins suggested pairing a silent viewing of the movie with Rick Ross’ “Hold Me Back,” which he was apparently listening to on his iPhone.
“This really is THE primo soundtrack,” he joked.
And this really is THE primo soundtrack for a NOTTING HILL watch, fyi pic.twitter.com/VAGoyPUUXo— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) January 4, 2018
Early on, Jenkins noticed one of the movie’s central tensions: Why would this hot celebrity be interested in this glasses-wearing, bowl cut-having civilian?
“Julia just looks waaaaaaaaay too much for his character in this!” Jenkins tweeted. “On their first date Julia had that braid AND that onesie body suit tucked into jeans and flat heel boots, she was basically Jay-Lo on IN LIVING COLOR! Translation: TEW MUCH FOR HUGH!!!”
Okay somebody tweeted me that Hugh owns a bookstore, but… on their first date Julia had that braid AND that onesie body suit tucked into jeans and flat heel boots, she was basically Jay-Lo on IN LIVING COLOR! Translation: TEW MUCH FOR HUGH!!!— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) January 4, 2018
Throughout the watch, Jenkins would cut in with the kinds of comments you make to your friends while seeing a movie for the first time. “Isn’t that that guy? From that thing?” “Was that character always in a wheelchair? Or did I miss something?”
Clearly a period piece BTW: what kind of bookstore owner has a flat like THAT in NOTTING HILL? This one actually isn’t a joke, what we’ve done to our neighborhoods, to property values and the VALUE of certain jobs is so damn sobering, depressing— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) January 4, 2018
Eventually, the rom-com magic took over, though, and Jenkins started to understand what Roberts might have seen in a guy like Hugh Grant.
“Julia Roberts on a roof in Notting Hill. In Hugh Grants sweatshirt… little to no makeup. Reebok trainers. Wow. If I were Julia and I saw myself in the mirror, SAW MYSELF looking that way, FEELING that comfortable? Okay THEN… then I would get it,” he wrote.
Oh god oh god watching a quasi love making scene between Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts over someone’s shoulder is like CRAZY AWKWARD!!!!— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) January 4, 2018
At one point, the movie even seemed to give the director a renewed sense of excitement about his field of work.
“I love that I get to do this for a living,” he tweeted. “I have no idea what [Hugh Grant’s] saying but he better be spitting some SERIOUS English Cat Game because that’s JULIA FUGGIN ROBERTS bruh.”
But… all I can think as I watch this is… I love that I get to do this for a living. And I have no idea what he’s saying but he better be spitting some SERIOUS English Cat Game because that’s JULIA FUGGIN ROBERTS bruh and she is SHO NUFF in this flick!— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) January 4, 2018
Once he’d reached the ending, (spoiler alert: the rom-com ends… romantically) Jenkins said he had “whiplash” from the rollercoaster of emotions.
Okay I has whiplash they got married she had a premiere the woman in the wheelchair got a FANTASTIC bob and now… there’s kids running around an English park with Hugh reading…. what on earth was he reading to her???— Barry Jenkins (@BarryJenkins) January 4, 2018
It seemed like a positive experience for the director, who joked that he “need[ed] a coffee” after looking back at some of the tweets.
When his seatmate eventually queued up The Proposal, he decided to throw in the towel and call it a night.