HE is sorry to report that director Roger Michell has passed at age 65 of an unstated cause. It can be deduced that his death was sudden and unexpected, as Michell was at Telluride only three or four weeks ago with his latest film, The Duke; he was also talking about working on a forthcoming documentary.
Michell was not what you’d call an auteur-level director with a signature style, but he was a little bit like John Schlesinger. He had an eye for engaging, first-rate material and was notoriously good with actors.
Michell’s peak moment happened over a three-year period with Notting Hill (’99) and Changing Lanes (’02) — a hugely popular Julia Roberts-Hugh Grant romcom and a brilliant, racially-charged urban drama costarring Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson. His next two films — The Mother (’03) and Enduring Love (’04) — were highly unconventional relationship films costarring Daniel Craig, the former about a love affair between a home renovator (Craig) and a woman in her ’60s (Anne Reid) and the latter about the hippie-ish Rhys Ifans developing a strange fixation upon Craig following an air-balloon accident.
The came Venus (’06), an engaging comedy drama with Peter O’Toole, and Morning Glory (’10), a peppy Broadcast News-like vehicle that costarred Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton. I happened to go apeshit over the latter.
Michell’s subsequent films were Hyde Park on Hudson (’12), Le Week-End (’13), My Cousin Rachel (’17), Nothing Like a Dame (’18), Blackbird (’19) and The Duke.