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
Both Larita and Marion are seen reading "Lady Chatterley's Lover," which was not published in England until 1960 (the film is set in the late 1920s or early 1930s). (Of course, Larita could have brought the book with her from the Continent.) See more »
I enjoyed this movie a fair bit more than the average viewer, if ratings are to be believed.
This very British film is a nice switch from the typical Hollywood romantic comedy, and does not attempt to squeeze within the conventional mold which runs from Four weddings and a Funeral through Love Actually and beyond. The wry influence of the original Noel Coward play becomes fresh again decades later.
Colin Firth is especially adept underplaying the dissolute father in law. He is just there, being, not acting.Totally believable and convincing. When his character is illuminated in a brief soliloquy two thirds of the way through the movie, he is brilliant, and without the ham fisted exposition of so much modern writing, the entire family story is explained, and powerful social commentary on topics from hereditary lands to fox hunting to war to social decay to euthanasia are digested without chewing.
A great example of "Show, not tell".
Jessica Biel is beautiful, here as always, and is never requested to do more than she is capable of. I particularly liked how the film makers did not beat us over the head with her sexuality, going with a muted sensuality most of the movie, except in key scenes where her full power is unleashed to excellent effect.
Kristin Scott Thomas is well cast as the domineering disapproving mother in law, and the British supporting players are treats, though I thought Ben Barnes as the love interest lacked the presence to hold his own in this cast.
We could use more movies like this.
24 of 30 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this