Easy Virtue (2008)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  19 June 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 15,774 users   Metascore: 58/100
Reviews: 78 user | 134 critic | 26 from Metacritic.com

A young Englishman marries a glamorous American. When he brings her home to meet the parents, she arrives like a blast from the future - blowing their entrenched British stuffiness out the window.


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2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Director: Stephan Elliott


Cast overview, first billed only:
Veronica Whittaker
Jim McManus ...
Jeremy Hooton ...
Joanna Bacon ...
Cook / Doris / Beatrice
Maggie Hickey ...
Georgie Glen ...


Between world wars, the Whittaker's estate is sinking; only the iron will of Mrs. Whittaker staves off bankruptcy while she awaits her son John's return from the continent. To her dismay, he brings a bride: an American widow who races cars. The bride, Larita, thinks she and John will visit and then go to London, where he'll work and she'll race. But John is to the manor born, and mother is nothing if not a master at plans and manipulation. Soon it's all-out war between mother and bride, with John's father, a burnt out veteran of the Great War, in the bride's corner ineffectually. Mother has a plan to join with the neighboring estate; only Larita is in her way. Can't we all get along? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In a family that prides itself as proper, vice becomes a virtue. See more »


Comedy | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief partial nudity, and smoking throughout | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

19 June 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Buenas costumbres  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£225,772 (UK) (14 November 2008)


$2,656,324 (USA) (2 October 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Though not expressly stated, the story gives the impression that Larita is somewhat older than John (she repeated refers to him as a boy). In fact, Jessica Biel is actually younger than Ben Barnes by several months. See more »


When John and Larita drive to the ruined castle and get out of the car, they leave the car doors open. After a head-shot of the two talking to each other, they walk past the car towards the castle, and the driver's door is now closed. See more »


Mrs. Whittaker: well, coming from a country no older than the chair you are sitting in, seems a very practical solution!
See more »

Crazy Credits

There's a Director Wrangler listed in the credits. See more »


Version of La comedia: Fácil virtud (1983) See more »


Sex Bomb
Written by Mousse T. (as Mustafa Guendogdu) and Errol Rennolls
Published by Ed Merg Music / Universal Music Publishing Ltd. (PRS)
Licensed courtesy of Universal Music Publishing Ltd.
Performed by Andy Caine with The Easy Virtue Orchestra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Biel is fantastic in first lead role
20 May 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jessica Biel earns major respect here for taking on a very ambitious task. "Easy Virtue" marks the first time she headlines her own movie, acting alongside powerhouses like Kristin Scott Thomas and Colin Firth. It's based on a stage play by Noel Coward, which coincidentally was first produced in New York in 1925. Usually I hear the words "stage play from 1925" and I want to quickly build and jump into a time machine but the movie is not only painless but it's absolutely lovable at the same time.

Biel plays Larita, a young American widow in the 1920's making her living as a motorist. She's the first woman ever to win the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo, a feminist long before her time, which attracts the attention of Brit John Whittaker (Ben Barnes). It isn't long before the two are married and he's taking her home to his family's country manor. The matriarch of the house is Veronica Whittaker (Kristin Scott Thomas), an icey, uppity, bitter woman who never lived much of a life of her own and sees Larita as a gold digger and a whore before she even gets to the house. Larita can tell that her mother-in-law doesn't like her and tries very hard to adapt but only alienates herself further in the process. John's father (Colin Firth), a Colonel in World War 1, is the only one who cuts her any slack. He can't stand his family's stuffiness either and sees Larita as a kindred spirit. A battle of one-ups-man-ship soon takes over the house as Veronica desperately tries to get rid of Larita, who refuses to back down.

The point of the play was a counteraction to British smugness and director Stephan Elliott, who co-wrote the screenplay with Sheridan Jobbins, keeps that basic principle intact. In Larita, summer has found its unlikely hero, a woman who goes by the beat of her own drum, has a strong sense of self, and a backbone. Biel is dazzling in the lead role, contributing a strong will, good comic timing, and an uninhibited playfulness that makes her even sexier. When Larita tangos in front of the family, you can feel the "F You" that she's laying down. Kristin Scott Thomas is perfect as her uptight and scheming foil and Colin Firth is a pro at delivering witty quips as well as digging deeper to communicate the things that haunt the character, whether they be World War 1 or his own family.

The one-liners come fast and frequent. There are also some very wicked bigger laughs, most of which involve Larita's un-candid sexual nature. A panty-less can-can during a war widows revue is a howler. Another big laugh involving a dog will make animal lovers cringe for sure. "Easy Virtue" is a comedy that works, one of the funniest I've seen all year long. The costume design is very good and the manor looks like a nice enough place to spend 2 hours of your time. It's only when Elliott turns on the musical soundtrack, with tunes old enough to make Frank Sinatra look and sound like Eminem, that the movie really starts to show its age. But no matter. If you're looking for a smart comedy with some really excellent performances, "Easy Virtue" is truly virtuous.

31 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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