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Easy Virtue

Let's Misbehave! 

Year: 2008 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC PG Cert – Parental guidance 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Stephan Elliot 
Starring: Jessica Biel, Colin Firth, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Ben Barnes and Kris Marshall.  
An image from Easy Virtue

Stephan Elliott has created a fine adaptation of Noel Coward’s 1924 play “Easy Virtue”. A slightly whimsical young Englishman, John Whittaker (Barnes) surprises his rather traditional family by returning from the French Riviera with his racy American bride Larita (Biel). Needless to say his mother (Scott Thomas) doesn’t approve and Larita spends the rest of the film trying but frequently failing to impress the in-laws.

It is quite a treat to see a witty, genuinely funny period piece that does not involve a bunch of women running around trying to catch suitable husbands. Dysfunctional families make for much more interesting viewing and Elliott’s version of “Easy Virtue” has more than a bit of “Meet the Parents” to it.

Comic performances from Biel are surprisingly good, this being the first role that gives her the chance to display her sharp comic timing. Firth is fantastic as the emotionally vacant father in-law and Kris Marshall threatens to steal every scene he is in as the dry humoured butler. But behind the comedy lie darker issues and these are frequently reflected in Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas’s characters.

Fans of the original may be disappointed as the film differs quite significantly from the play, but it is generally to greater comic effect and works to bring in a somewhat broader sense of humour. The end result is that everyone should find a character or situation in the film that will tickle their funny bone.

Steph Janes

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Screenings of this film:

2008/2009 Spring Term (35mm)