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Movie Review: Biel, Firth and Thomas make ‘Virtue’ easy to like

8 Jun

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Easy Virtue (2009) PG-13. 93 min. Directed by: Stephan Elliot. Written by: Stephan Elliot and Sheridan Jobbins. Starring: Colin Firth, Kristen Scott Thomas, Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes. Cinematography:Martin Kenzie. Original music by: Marius Devries.

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Stephan Elliot’s adaptation of Noel Coward’s  Easy Virtue is the epitome of summer art-house; light, frothy, frequently bombastic and as enduring as a popsicle in August. And for most of its running time it’s a perfectly refreshing bit of blockbuster counter-programming. Elliot, the director of the quirky Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (and not much else really) takes all the best satirical bits from Coward’s 1924 play and adds a few new wrinkles to update the plot. He also manages to nab an eclectic cast that include pros like Kristen Scott Thomas and Colin Firth (not slumming it for a change) and the luminous Jessica Biel, who while slightly miscast, shows acting chops not previously seen. With the help of  cinematographer Martin Kenzie, who captures the idylls of posh British manor life in bright, lush details, Elliot crafts a fast-moving, witty comedy that maximizes its cast but ends up minimizing the strength of Coward’s observations by dilluting the tale’s substantial edge. Continue reading

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