Galas and Special Screenings

Easy Virtue

MasterCard Gala
A hugely enjoyable version of Noel Coward's twenties culture clash between dusty English aristocrats and a brash and bohemian American.

Tue 28 October 2008 20:30 ODEON WEST END 2 PRIORITY BOOKING
Wed 29 October 2008 20:45 RICH MIX Screen 1 PRIORITY BOOKING

Australian director Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) comprehensively blows the dust off Noel Coward's witty social comedy Easy Virtue, retaining the period setting but giving it a distinctly modern feel. Written and set in the roaring twenties, and adapted by Elliott and co-writer Sheridan Jobbins, it revolves around a most enjoyable culture clash between dusty landed English aristos and a bohemian American. On a trip to France, John Whittaker (Ben Barnes), a young English man, falls head over heels in love with a sexy, impossibly glamorous American, Larita (Jessica Biel), and they marry on impulse. When he arrives back at the family's stately pile, brandishing his new wife like a trophy, he finds a less than warm reception. John's mother Veronica takes an instantly sniffy dislike to Larita, and what follows is a delightful battle of wits as the two women employ fair means and foul to gain the upper hand.

Kristin Scott Thomas is perfect as the glacially polite and determinedly protective Veronica, and Jessica Biel impresses as the liberated, racy incomer. The fine ensemble cast includes Colin Firth as Veronica's husband, a man of hidden and cheer-inducing depths, and Kris Marshall, whose turn as the family's dry as a bone butler almost steals the show. Things move along at a sparkling pace, and there's an idiosyncratic and very welcome touch in the musical choices, mixing up period gems and recent pop. Noel Coward and Prince? Elliott makes it feel like a match made in heaven.
Sandra Hebron

Directed by:Stephan Elliott
Written by:Stephan Elliott, Sheridan Jobbins
Cast:Jessica Biel, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth, Ben Barnes, Kimberley Nixon
Distributor:Pathé Distribution
Country:UK-USA
Year:2008
Running time:97min
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