Easy Virtue Stephan Elliott

Easy Virtue Stephan Elliott
Stephan Elliot's Easy Virtue is exactly the type of period piece you'd expect the director of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert to make. Ostensibly set in the '20s, the film exists in the "1920s": a jaunty, heightened version of the past with flappers on every street corner and songs like "Let's Misbehave" and "Charleston" perpetually on the soundtrack. Colourful, aggressively cheeky and so fast-paced one gets the sense the editor might have benefited from some Ritalin, Easy Virtue is based on a Noel Coward play and, indeed, it's to the Merchant-Ivory period pieces as Noel Coward was to, say, Eugene O'Neill. Set during a family gathering at a wealthy country estate, the outlandishly snobby Mrs. Whittaker (Kristin Scott Thomas) is appalled when her son John (Ben Barnes) brings home his new wife Larita (Jessica Biel), a high-spirited American of questionable moral background, leading, of course, to a feud of epic proportions. Easy Virtue is so eager to be frothy fun that it feels, at times, like Champaign somebody has dumped a tin of sugar in. Still, it improves as it goes along, thanks to the wit and crowd-pleasing conflicts of the original Noel Coward text, and because of the performances by Kristin Scott Thomas (who can practically do snootiness in her sleep) and Jessica Biel. While Biel admittedly never feels like a product of the '20s, well, maybe that's the point. DVD extras include deleted scenes, footage from the New York premiere and an amusing commentary by Stephan Elliot and writer Sheridan Jobbins, in which they cheerfully admit how many liberties they took with Noel Coward's play. (Alliance)