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The Importance of Being Earnest


Year: Unknown 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: Unknown 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Oscar Wilde subtitled his late 19th century creation, The Importance of Being Earnest, "A trivial comedy for serious people." He intended it to be silly and slight, but he also had a message to deliver, and while the play's relevance may be reduced more than a century since it was written, Wilde's swipe at the British upper class is unmistakeable.

The plot does sound confusing - two men in late 19th century Britain find amusement by creating alter egos, each named Ernest. For Jack Worthing (Colin Firth), this allows a respite from his frightfully serious existence at his country estate, and a romance with city dweller Gwendolen Fairfax (Frances O'Connor). For Algernon Moncrieff (Rupert Everett), it is a one-time trick that (along with an imaginary invalid friend) allows him to escape the demands of an uptight aunt, Lady Bracknell (Judi Dench), who also happens to be Gwendolen's mother. To complete the romantic circle, Algy is destined to fall in love with young Cecily Cardew (Reese Witherspoon), for whom Jack serves as guardian. But don't worry if you happen to be a science student and haven't read a play in your life, the film is really easy to follow and very entertaining.

Oliver Parker (Othello, An Ideal Husband) directs, and puts together a pleasing version of the well known work. The dialogue is very true to Wilde's original work, and though sometimes a bit overdone just for the sake of it being fun to overdo things, the look of the movie in general and the period is pretty wonderful. But the greatest attraction to the movie is the cast. All put in humorous, believable, and engaging performances. Most notably Everett and Firth both seem to be born to play these characters.

The Importance Of Being Earnest is a delightful film to watch on the big screen. It's a farce, a comedy of errors, a romantic comedy, and a mystery all rolled into one. It's not a deep film with dark characters or depressing themes, but you will laugh and go home feeling happy. What more can you ask for?

Vicki Robertson

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Spring Term (35mm)