Grantwatch Update: The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain

Thursday December 29th 2011


Ten films in and Grantwatch, my valiant odyssey through the annals of Hugh Grant’s back catalogue, is really starting to get interesting. I’ve already covered a lot of the basics — Four Weddings, About a Boy, both Bridget Jones movies — and now I’m getting on to some of the more obscure stuff. Yes, even more obscure than Extreme Measures.

Last night I watched The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, one of the oddest (and most elaborately named) entries in Grant’s thirty-strong cinematic oeuvre. Released in August 1995 (just over a year after Four Weddings made him a household name) the film reeks unmistakably of contractual obligation, but that’s not to say that Hugh isn’t putting his all in.

You’d be forgiven for assuming that the film’s lengthy title was a metaphor of some kind, perhaps referring to a triumph over adversity or a coming of age, but TEWWUAHBCDAM is a much more literal affair than that. Set in 1917, it tells the story of Reginald Anson, a young cartographer tasked with aiding the war effort by measuring the heights of Welsh mountains. Under new regulations, he’s forced to downgrade one such mountain to a hill due to its dwindling stature, much to the consternation of local villagers who set about ‘raising the mountain’ by dumping a load of soil on it.

So basically:

Well done everybody, take the rest of the week off.

The film takes equal pleasure in mocking Grant’s ‘Englishness’ and parading around a load of mindless Welsh stereotypes, headed up by Colm Meaney’s wily philanderer Morgan the Goat. Tara Fitzgerald (who also starred opposite Grant in 1993′s Sirens) plays the love interest, but whatever the poster might have you believe …

TEWWUAHBCDAM is not a romantic comedy. So while it’s vaguely implied that Grant and Fitzgerland fuck at the top of the mountain towards the end of the film, most of their scenes don’t get much more steamy than this:

Still: a hot look for Grant, I think you’ll agree.

Sadly, the film enters the Grantwatch chart towards the bottom of the list, beating only Bridge Jones: The Edge of Reason. But don’t let that put you off: if you’ve got 99 minutes spare and very little else to do, then you could certainly do worse than this charmingly straightforward little film — as the tagline so ably puts it, it’s ‘a romantic comedy about a town that wouldn’t give up. A man who couldn’t get out. And the mountain that brought them together.’

Literally.