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Easy Virtue

A movie directed by Stephan Elliott.

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Sassy, Naughty, Tasty Noel Coward

  • Sep 19, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+3
One requirement for producing Noel Coward's works on stage or on film is a fine ensemble cast: if any of the characters is weak, the ring of intrigue and crackling dialogue fizzles. Stephan Elliott (who also directs) and Sheridan Jobbins have managed to capture in the script the atmosphere and the essence and the tone of Coward's play EASY VIRTUE and with a cast that would be difficult to improve upon have created a sparkling bit of talky nostalgia that resurrects Noel Coward's position in the world of theater.

The story is simple in concept: a haughty English family, feeling their foundations crumble, must face the new marriage of the heir apparent son to (of all trashy things) an American girl. How each member of this dysfunctional family deals with the surprise arrival of the son and his 'cheap' wife provides not only an hilarious and endless flow of quips and spunky dialogue but also a study in class distinction/prejudice. Ben Barnes is the epitome of the heir apparent who has fallen for the American Jessica Biel (in a multifaceted performance that marries comedy to drama), Kristin Scott Thomas is the snobby disapproving matriarch, Colin Firth is the bruised patriarch, the sisters are the 'good' Kimberly Nixon and the 'bad' Katherine Parkinson. To top it off the sage butler is portrayed by Kris Marshall, the only truly sane member of the odd group of characters.

The period piece is played to perfection with a musical score that is flavorful and nostalgic and scenery that captures the fading glow of England as the empire fades post World War. Each of the characters tosses off Coward's delectable lines so smoothly that some of the humor and caustic wit are lost on first viewing but are compensated for in repeated viewings. This is a film that glows, even if the final results of the venture are not entirely happy ones. Grady Harp, September 09

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More Easy Virtue reviews
review by . February 04, 2010
The year is 1928, and young playboy John is bringing his new bride to his parent's country estate. His possessive mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) is fuming over the marriage and horrified to meet Larita (Jessica Biel), his outspoken, race car-driving, and slightly older wife. John's father (Colin Firth), an unhappy veteran of WWI, is the only one in the family who seems to like Larita.       Based on a dramatic play by Noel Coward but rewritten by the director, this comedy of manners …
review by . October 01, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Jessica Biel (Larita) gives a powerful performance in this film as an eccentric American woman stuck in a marriage in traditional England. Colin Firth plays an ex-soldier stuck in a loveless marriage. The film is pretty believable in terms of its depiction of early 20th century English life. It's interesting to see how the vivacious American and disgruntled Brit get along so well.    Larita's personality, hidden past, and sex appeal rub her in-laws the wrong way as she represents …
review by . October 03, 2009
The first twenty minutes of this film almost made me yawn with boredom. It's a very slow start and the people are not engaging characters. However, as the story builds the drama unfolds in a most interesting and rather sad way. There are also moments within that seem to be designed for a slapstick feel that end up being a little jarring.       However, if you love character pieces and don't mind waiting to get the show going, you might want to check into it. The mother-in-law …
review by . October 03, 2009
The first twenty minutes of this film almost made me yawn with boredom. It's a very slow start and the people are not engaging characters. However, as the story builds the drama unfolds in a most interesting and rather sad way. There are also moments within that seem to be designed for a slapstick feel that end up being a little jarring.    However, if you love character pieces and don't mind waiting to get the show going, you might want to check into it. The mother-in-law or …
review by . March 22, 2009
This is an ever-so-funny British comedy adapted from the Noel Coward play, and stars the ever-so-British Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas and Ben Barnes (aka Prince Caspian) plus Jessica Biel, who's not British at all.       Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):     1. British lad (Barnes) meets widowed American race car driver (Biel) in France and marries her with grande vitesse.   2. Back on English soil, Mummy dearest (Scott Thomas) …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #101
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Wiki

Easy Virtue is a social comedy based on Noël Coward's play of the same name. The play was previously made into the silent movie Easy Virtue (1928) by Alfred Hitchcock. This version is directed by Stephan Elliott, written by Elliott and Sheridan Jobbins, and stars Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, and Kristin Scott Thomas.

A lighthearted adaptation of a Noel Coward play set in the late 1920s, Easy Virtue stars Jessica Biel as Larita, an adventurous American who marries John, the naive, British heir (Ben Barnes) to a crumbling family estate. Whisked into the less-than-receptive bosom of John's kin, Larita soon finds herself drawing the scorn of her mother-in-law (Kristin Scott Thomas), who would have preferred John marry a longtime sweetheart from his own genteel community rather than a brash Yankee. Eager to move to London, Larita knows the longer a post-honeymoon John visits his family the harder it will be for the newlyweds to live on their own terms, and she's right. Giving up on any notion of fitting in, Larita suffers a few embarrassments before fighting back. But nothing can help her once a past scandal encroaches on her dream of happiness.
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Details

Director: Stephan Elliott
DVD Release Date: September 15, 2009
Runtime: 97 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
First to Review
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