The Netflix Report

Movie reviews from my Netflix queue. Highly personal and opinionated!

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Monday, April 17, 2006

The Importance Of Being Earnest

If you like Oscar Wilde one liners and dry wit, this play is his signature piece. The film version from 2002 uses an all-star cast with several actors who have done it on stage. The film is marvelously opened up and rewritten to make it feel at all times like a movie rather than a filmed stage play. The good lines are retained, but purists should note that it is NOT the straight text of the play. The settings and re-creation of old England are beautiful and meticulous.

Reese Witherspoon affects a marginal English accent without too much embarrassment, although her character is such a flibbertigibbet that you can't care too much about reality around her. Judi Dench reprises her constipated angry upper crust British matriarch persona for the 4,376th time on film. Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, and Frances O'Connor are all very good as the leading triangle.

A fun time once you accept the outlandish foundation for the screwball mixups. There is one very strange touch in the film where Witherspoon's character is prone to fantasies of shining knights on horseback and we suddenly see things in her fairy tale imagination, complete with long-locked minstrels serenading the lovers. It comes in as jarring, and hardly seems appropriate for a character repeatedly referenced as being 18 years old, but showing the emotional maturity of a 14-year old.

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