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With its '30s charm and an oh-so-British sense of playfulness, writer-director Stephan Elliot's dramatic-comedy "Easy Virtue" is one of those whimsical period pieces you find yourself wanting to love -- if only it would let you. The lush, English-manor setting is reason enough for Anglophiles to want to drink it all in. Most other times, however, the movie's gleeful thumbing of the nose to English stuffiness just feels forced, as if everybody's trying too hard to look like they're having fun.
Elliot's movie -- based on a three-act play by Noel Coward, which was ly adapted into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock -- ends up lurching along on an episodic script that trades any chance at a smooth narrative flow for a series of extended gags. Jessica Biel stars as Larita, the brassy young divorcee who turns the aristocratic Whittaker family on its ear when she marries son John, played by Ben Barnes "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian". Not only does she have the gall to be American, but she also makes her living -- and headlines -- as a racing-car driver.
How vulgar! Snapshot: A dramatic comedy about a young American beauty who marries into a stuffy British family none to happy about her arrival. Based on the play by Noel Coward. What works: The Colin firth jessica biel has its charms, with a playfulness and mirth that's hard to resist. What doesn't: It feels as if it trying too hard to be fun at times, which ruins the illusion. The lurching, episodic script also lacks a narrative flow. Director: Stephan Elliot. Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes. Rating: PG for sexual content, brief partial nudity and smoking throughout. Where: Canal Place.
The rest of the film is spent chronicling the Colin firth jessica biel feud between Larita and Ms. Whittaker, with Elliot taking his audience through spurts of silliness. There's the flattened Chihuahua bit. There's the bottomless can-can bit. There's the fox-hunting-by-motorcycle bit. Whitaker, the wise-cracking, easy-going family patriarch who is disinclined to see Larita as a gold-digger.
He is among the movie's more interesting characters -- brooding and smart and near suicidal, just the way Firth likes them -- but we hardly get to know him. A recent headline declared that Biel "is still trying to prove she's more than a pretty face. Her performance here is so flat and predictable that it becomes painfully clear that it was, indeed, her pretty face that earned her the opportunity to work alongside the likes of Thomas and Firth.
There's a point in the film where Elliot -- whose most notable credit came on 's "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" -- allows the rollicking period soundtrack to give way to a jazzy, harmonized version Colin firth jessica biel the disco-era anthem "Car Wash. It's a fun, kitschy exercise in willful anachronism, but it also makes for a jarring, take-you-out-of-the-movie moment that just doesn't quite feel right. The Times-Picayune's A-to-Z movie review archive.
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