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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

EASY VIRTUE

By D.E.Levine

Director: Stephan Elliott
Producers: Joseph Abrams, James D. Stern, and Barnaby Thompson
Executive Producers: Paul Brett, Louise Goodsill, Douglas Hansen, Ralph Kamp, George McGhee, Peter Nichols, James Spring, and Cindy Wilkinson Kirven
Co-Producer: Alexander Ferguson
Associate Producer: Sophie Meyer
Writers: Stephan Elliott, Sheridan Jobbins, based on the play by Noel Coward
Cast: Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth, Kimberly Nixon, Katherine Parkinson, Kris Marshall
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Language: English

Witty and quick moving, Easy Virtues was written by Noel Coward when he was only 24 years old. Set in the 1920s it was originally filmed by Alfred Hitchcock (before he found fame in the thriller/horror genre).

Seventy years after the original release, the new version stars Jessica Biel as an American race car driver Larita, who marries a young British aristocrat John Whittaker after a whirlwind romance in France.

When the young couple arrive back at the Whittaker estate the prim and proper matriarch is horrified by Larita's lack of aristocratic breeding, and willingness to ruffle the stiff feathers of society. Realizing that Mother Whittaker is trying to undermine her, Larita decides to fight back.

John's sisters can't help but be affected by Larita and John's father sees his young daughter-in-law as a kindred spirit, with whom he apparently falls in love.

While director Elliott has rewritten the script, he kept the Coward witticisms and the cast gives great comic performances while a soundtrack of period songs by Cole Porter and others runs along with it and newer songs in swing version, like Car Wash and When the Going Gets Tough add a modern feel to this film version.

The cinematographic settings and costumes are rich in color and feeling, and the cast looks wonderful in the period piece. While Easy Virtue doesn't start out as anything special, the manner and humor in which Larita disrupts the Whittaker household, offending the mother, intriguing the sister siblings, and awakening long dead emotion in the cynical father, is easy to follow and enjoy.

In the end, Elliott achieves a witty and amusing film that is pleasant to view and agreeable to listen to, while getting better performances from the cast members than they've given in a long time.