Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tribeca Film Festival: "Must See" (New York Magazine)

"Easy Virtue" is screening tonight at the Tribeca Film Festival. New York Magazine listed the film as one of the "must see" movies of the festival. This is what they had to say:

"How do you update Noel Coward's fizzy 1924 masterpiece of class conflict for the 21st century? You don't. Elliott's lovely take on Coward's female American race-car driver marrying into an upper crust British family is terrifically acted by colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas, and (surprise!) Jessica Biel." -B.E.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Noel Coward Society Approves!

There’s a lot of opinion about what Noel Coward, may, or may not have thought about the latest film version of his play, “Easy Virtue”, but if it’s any guide - the Noel Coward Society approves.

This is the review they have posted on their website:
“Elliott has struggled to find a rhythm to his career in the afterglow of his biggest success The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert (1994). Easy Virtue is his most satisfying effort since that landmark production and finds him at ease with a world of cutting wordplay and class conflict. He embraces the lush theatricality of Coward's sensibility, but without toppling into the kind of camp archness that might grate with a contemporary audience. He also employs a cast that has the comic timing and dramatic abilities to make the most of the subtleties in Coward's writing.

You expect Kristin Scott Thomas and Colin Firth to be completely at home in this universe, but the revelation is Jessica Biel who handles the literate dialogue with aplomb. She plays Larita, a daredevil American sensation of the European race track who follows a whirlwind romance with naive Englishman John (Ben Barnes) by marrying him and then facing the daunting prospect of meeting his parents. Frosty mother Veronica (Kristin Scott Thomas) does everything she can to make her feel unwelcome and a state of war is declared. Laritta discovers all the poisonous emotions that flow within the family whilst Veronica and the daughters uncover all the dirty secrets from Larita's past that might convince John that this is not a marriage made in heaven.

Coward was the master of the well-constructed, impeccably witty play that eventually reveals some home truths about the emotional repression of the English middle-classes and the stifling repression endemic to the British class system. All of those elements are present in this adaptation. There are still lines of such wit and savagery that they easily connect with a modern audience and the message about the need to break from from the shackles of the past and embrace the possibilities of a new, uncertain future is timeless.

The ubiquitous Colin Firth has some telling moments as Mrs Whittaker's bored husband and grumpy paterfamilias Jim, Kris Marshall milks all the deadpan comedy in family retainer Thurber and Kristin Scott Thomas has just the right edge of manic malice to make Veronica a formidable opponent.

Who knows what value the Noel Coward brand has for a modern audience, but this is enjoyable and accessible enough to provide a substantial specialist hit.”

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Feel-good hit of the season" : US Dates

"Easy Virtue" continues to screen on all of its cinemas as it enters it 6th week in Australia. Excellent reviews, tremendous box office and great word of mouth have all buoyed the films cache as is now prepares to open in France (on May 6th), the US (May 22nd) and New Zealand (May 28th). [Advertisement from SMH, Saturday 11th April, 2009]

Prior to those release dates, there will advance festival screenings in the US. The Tribeca Film Festival - has invited 'Easy Virtue' to be a part of their 'Spotlight' section. It will have it's first American screening at 6pm on the 28th of April, (BMCC cinema) and again at 4.15pm the next day (at AV7-07) and 9.30pm on Friday the first of May (AV7-04).

Tribeca Film Festival: Program Notes say:
"Based on the Noel Coward play, Easy Virtue is reworked and revitalized in Stephan Elliott's (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) triumphant adaptation. Class-conscious Brits the Whittakers meet their son's (Ben Barnes) gorgeous and scandalous bride, Larita (Jessica Biel) with hesitation and subsequent disgust. She is a wily American race car driver with all the flair of a young Dietrich, but her carefree and liberal attitude does not go over well with the in-laws' old-world values and stuffy traditions. Larita's biggest naysayer is Mrs. Whittaker, wickedly played by Kristin Scott Thomas. Her husband (Colin Firth) is the offbeat recluse of the bunch, who adds wonderful comedic relief in tense moments. As the mother-in-law and new world daughter duke it out in hilarious fashion over the course of the couple's stay, we can't help but cheer on the shake-up.

"Elliott sticks to the heart of the Coward play by digging into the hypocrisy of priggish aristocrats refusing to roll with the times, and he and fellow screenwriter Sheridan Jobbins inject each scene with delightfully witty dialogue. Easy Virtue mesmerizes and tickles with great performances and good old-fashioned laughs. A Sony Pictures Classics presentation.
--written by Genna Terranova"

The film has also been invited to the San Francisco International Film Festival, screening at 6pm on Wednesday 6th of May, Thursday afternoon, 7th of May.

Their review of the film says: "The director of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert returns after a nine-year absence with this randy update of the classic Noel Coward Jazz-Age play, giving it a jaunty 21st-century swing while retaining all its original barbs and charms. It’s the mid-1920s in stuffy old England, and the snobbish family of wealthy trophy-boy John Whittaker wouldn’t mind if time stood still forever. Imagine their consternation, then, when John brings home impromptu new bride Larita (Jessica Biel), who’s not only a modern woman with modern charms (and legs), but is also a successful auto racer (gasp!) and an American (even bigger gasp!). While John’s lackadaisical father (Colin Firth, perpetually perched between slumber and scruff) doesn’t seem to mind Larita’s presence, his overbearing mother (an icily regal Kristin Scott Thomas) certainly does, and soon a battle of wits and wills rattles through the family’s crumbling estate, as two strong women—one of the past, the other of the present—battle for the future. Director Stephan Elliot infuses the play’s already toxic social commentary with some unexpectedly modern fashions and pop hits (“Sex Bomb,” “Carwash,” etc.), but his wisest decision is to just let his cast loose on Coward’s notoriously cutting dialogue. All barbed-wire niceties and ice-water kisses, Thomas embodies a social scion of a very certain class, while Firth counters her chill with a dishevelled warmth all his own. It’s Jessica Biel, however, who delivers the truly astonishing performance, her bohemian beauty polished by a spirited, razor-sharp wit."