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Bright Young Things (2003)

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An adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel "Vile Bodies," is a look into the lives of a young novelist, his would-be lover, and a host of young people who beautified London in the 1930s.

Director:

Stephen Fry

Writers:

Stephen Fry (screenplay), Evelyn Waugh (novel)
10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Simon McBurney ... Sneath (Photo-Rat)
Michael Sheen ... Miles Maitland
Emily Mortimer ... Nina
James McAvoy ... Simon Balcairn
Stephen Campbell Moore ... Adam
Stockard Channing ... Mrs Melrose Ape
Adrian Scarborough ... Customs Officer
Jim Carter ... Chief Customs Officer
Fenella Woolgar ... Agatha
Dan Aykroyd ... Lord Monomark
Julia McKenzie ... Lottie Crump
Bruno Lastra ... Basilio
David Tennant ... Ginger Littlejohn
Jim Broadbent ... The Drunken Major
John Franklyn-Robbins John Franklyn-Robbins ... Judge
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Storyline

A fool and his money. In the 1930s, Adam Fenwick-Symes is part of the English idle class, wanting to marry the flighty Nina Blount. He's a novelist with a hundred-pound advance for a manuscript confiscated by English customs. He spends the next several years trying to get money and to set a wedding date: he trades in gossip, wins money on wagers then gives it to a drunken major who's suggested he bet on a horse in an upcoming race. Adam tries to get the money back, but can't find the major. Meanwhile, Nina needs security, friends drink too much, and general unhappiness spoils the party. Then war breaks out. Is Adam's bright youth dimming with the fall of an empire? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Sex... Scandal... Celebrity... Some things never change.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 October 2003 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Agria niata See more »

Filming Locations:

Port of Tilbury, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£327,293 (United Kingdom), 5 October 2003, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$46,926, 22 August 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$931,755, 14 November 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The assistant director, Jo Crocker, is Stephen Fry's sister. See more »

Goofs

A television aerial can be seen on the right hand rooftops in the external shot of the hotel that Adam and Nina stay at. See more »

Quotes

Ginger Littlejohn: What I'm about to say is that what I'm about to say may sound unpleasant, y'know, and all that, but look here, y'know, dammit. I mean, the better man has won. Not, um, that I'm saying that I'm the better man, I wouldn't say that for a moment, awful bad luck on you and all but still, when you come to think of it I mean look here, y'know. Dammit. Do you see what I mean?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits list the actors one or two at a time, showing pictures of their characters in the film along with their names. See more »

Connections

Featured in 2005 Glitter Awards (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Twentieth Century Blues
Written and performed by Noël Coward
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User Reviews

 
Waugh A Waste
21 March 2011 | by slokesSee all my reviews

"Bright Young Things" is a comedy that's never funny, a period piece that doesn't know what period it's in, and a party film that leaves you with the hangover.

When writer-director Stephen Fry decided to make an adaptation of an Evelyn Waugh novel, he could have done himself a favor and not adapted "Vile Bodies." It's an episodic satire on the lives of a group of London club kids in the late 1920s that attempts to elicit laughter from the nasty ways they are run to ground by the world around them. The characters aren't meant for any deeper emotional investment than lab rats, though Fry seems to believe otherwise.

At the center of the story, in both novel and film, is young Adam (Stephen Campbell Moore), who at the start of our story has lost his prized manuscript and is desperately trying to find new sources of funding with which to marry his lover Nina (Emily Mortimer). Opportunity comes in the form of an offer from publisher Lord Monomark (Dan Aykroyd) who wants Adam's help "tearing the lid off the young, idle, and rich."

"I put Seignior Mussolini on the front page, no one buys a copy," he laments. "But a picture of one of your set in a nightclub, I can't print enough copies."

The problem with both the novel and the film is this interesting idea is dropped almost before it begins, in favor of a number of other outrageous episodes which seem to act on the principle that anything can be made merry provided it moves fast enough. Like a strange major who makes off with some money Adam wanted to bet on a long-shot horse. Or a party that winds up finding themselves in the Prime Minister's residence. Or a car race that loses a wayward driver. All of this is drawn out as if it were funny merely by being incongruous.

The film is worse on a few counts. First, Fry by necessity condenses the story but is at pains to include almost every character that appears in the book, as a way of facilitating assorted cameos that run from extraneous (Richard E. Grant as an angry Jesuit) to sad (John Mills as a mute coke sniffer). Second, he invests his version with an elegiac sadness that feels totally out of place in the second half. Nothing says comedy like a man sticking his head in an oven, or another tearfully discovering his homosexual lifestyle exposed.

Even the main romance, a matter of crass opportunism in the book, is presented as a kind of real love story, even heroic as the Roaring '20s zip suddenly ahead to Dunkirk and the Blitz. Fry doesn't seem to trust either Waugh's wit or his own to make "Bright Young Things" work on comedic grounds, or else he really thinks the characters worth celebrating. The result is a doubled-down waste of our time.


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