Easy Virtue is one of Noel Coward's lesser-known plays. It is a comedy with a dramatic flair and is an indictment of the stuffy upper crust British life of the 1920s.
An update of the play from the 1890s to post World War I, a few nifty plot twists and an outstanding cast make this one of the more pleasant summer surprises. Jessica Biel ( I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry) is Larita Whittaker, an American feminist and racecar driver, who marries Brit John Whittaker (Ben Barnes). The news doesn't sit well with his socialite mom billed only as Mrs. and played with precise perfection by Kristin Scott Thomas. Rounding out the cast is Colin Firth who does John's mostly silent, henpecked father.
Mixed into the story is a family financial crisis, expectations for both husbands, proper behavior issues and former relationships and Larita's scandalous past.
The themes are old movie news. You've seen them dozens of times. However the execution at the hands of writer/director Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) and his co-writer Sheridan Jobbins is anything but familiar.
The acting--especially Biel's--borders on perfection and Elliott and Jobbins change Coward's ending a bit with a very nice twist that will have you debating one of two possible interpretations.
Look at the following link on the Mr. Movie page to see an interview Tri-City Herald critic Gary Wolcott did with Elliott and Jobbins and see their lively debate about this most interesting ending.
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It opens Friday, June 19 at the Carmike 12.
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
5 stars/4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen4 stars / 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie. 3 stars / 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD. 2 stars / 1 star: Don't bother.0 stars: Speaks for itself