Friday, February 27, 2009

"A Warm Hand on Your Opening": The British Reviews

The current incarnation of "Easy Virtue", adapted from the original Noel Coward play, and starring Jessica Biel, Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas and Ben Barnes, opened in Britain on November 7th, 2008.

Helen O'Hara at Empire, the major cinema magazine in Britain, summed up the film by saying that it had "a welcome sense of whimsy often missing in the costume genre."

Over at Channel 4, James Mottram opens his review by saying, "Coward's dark tale of an uptight family of British aristocrats - written when he was just 23 - is far removed from the wit-soaked comedies the elegant playwright became known for. Thus, Elliott plays fast and loose with the original, ironically turning it into something far more Coward-like along the way."

While the Daily Mail effused: "Like a vintage bottle of champers, Noel Coward’s deliciously funny comedy of manners has lost none of its sparkle in the 80-odd years since it was written. Fizzing with droll humour, pithy observations on the class system and some brilliantly acidic one-liners, it’s wall-to-wall wit on a grand scale."

There were numerous television reviews which incorporated interviews with their incisive and highly positive assessments of the film.

ITV 4 had this to say:

GMTV also gave the film a rave review, with this additional plug for the soundtrack

Festival Reviews for Easy Virtue

"Easy Virtue" has screened in numerous international festivals. Each time it does, the festival provides an independent review of the film to be printed in their programme.

The film first screened in front of a commercial audience when it premiered in Canada at the Toronto International Film Festival The festival's director, Cameron Bailey, summed up his feelings about the film by saying, "Crafty direction, snappy dialogue and a delightful cast take this comedy of manners far beyond the confines of the typical romantic comedy. What results is a film that is as clever and hilarious as it is artfully crafted"

Several weeks later, "Easy Virtue" was invited to the second Middle Eastern International Film Festival held in Abu Dhabi, and a few days later the cast and crew walked the red carpet of the London Film Festival. Although the weather was gloomy, the response to the film was warm: "Things move along at a sparkling pace, and there's an idiosyncratic and very welcome touch in the musical choices, mixing up period gems and recent pop. Noel Coward and Prince? Elliott makes it feel like a match made in heaven."

The reception at the Rome Film Festival was tumultuous with Reuters predicting that: "Easy Virtue," a bubbly comedy based on Noel Coward's play about English high society in the 1920s, has emerged as a hot favorite to win the best film award at the Rome festival, which winds up on Friday." Although the film failed to take that prize, it was rewarded with seven weeks in the Italian Top 10 Box Office.

Most recently, on March 1st, 2009, "Easy Virtue" was invited to close the Adelaide Film Festival. In their programme, they described the film's director Stephan Elliott as "a director who appreciates the theatrical possibilities of cultural clashes and he’s back to his sparkling best in this delicious confection."

Trade Reviews for the film, "Easy Virtue"

The film, "Easy Virtue", directed by Australian Stephan Elliott, had its first public screening in the Elgin Theatre at the Toronto International Film Festival on the 7th of September, 2008. It was met with a standing ovation by the 1,500 people in the audience and the next day received excellent reviews in all the trade papers.

The Hollywood Reporter described it as: "An old Noel Coward play rediscovered and refurbished in a splendid production from Stephan Elliott."

Variety, that old doyen of the entertainment industry, felt that "A fine cast makes sure Noel Coward's champagne remains bubbly in "Easy Virtue," an effervescent entertainment that marks a welcome return for "Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" director Stephan Elliott after a nine-year absence."

While relative newcomer, Screen Daily, lavished it with praise: "Handsome production values, a class-act cast and nimble direction from Elliott all combine to make the most of the material, transforming it into a surprisingly elegant, entertaining period piece."