Easy Virtue [Blu-ray]
Jessica Biel, Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas and Ben Barnes bring Noël Coward's witty comedy of manners magnificently to life in this "deliciously cheeky" (Ella Taylor, The Village Voice) adaptation from director Stephan Elliott (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert). When British playboy John brings his new wife Larita - a race car-driving feminist from Detroit - home to meet the family at their country estate, pretty much everyone's expectations are disappointed. His snooty mother is offended by Larita's carefree American ways, while Larita does everything she can to get her mother-in-law to loosen up, which only annoys her even more. John's sisters have diametrically opposed feelings about their new sister-in-law, but his father is intrigued to have finally found another who sees through the family's façade - and takes great perverse pleasure in watching his wife meet her match.
Stills from Easy Virtue (Click for larger image)
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- Aspect Ratio : 2.35:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medPG13 PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
- Product Dimensions : 6.75 x 5.25 x 0.5 inches; 3.2 Ounces
- Item model number : 5822957
- Director : Stephan Elliott
- Media Format : AC-3, Blu-ray, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Run time : 1 hour and 36 minutes
- Release date : September 15, 2009
- Actors : Jessica Biel, Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Barnes, Kristin Thomas
- Dubbed: : German, Portuguese, Spanish
- Subtitles: : German, English, Portuguese, Turkish, Spanish
- Producers : Joseph Abrams, James Stern, Barnaby Thompson
- Studio : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- ASIN : B002I5GNZG
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #98,205 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Loved this film. Great job, Beil.
The story opens with Larita winning the Monte Carlo Grand Prix but being disqualified for "not having chest hair," as she says. She and new husband John drive out to the family venerable estate in Larita's souped-up German racer. An ice cold reception from everyone but father-in-law Maj. Whittaker is a harbinger of things to come. Larita's other in-laws treat her like a dog privately and put on phony faces when friends are present. Mother-in-law Victoria is particularly caustic. Larita goes toe-to-toe with her (much to the major's delight) and surprises Victoria with a tenacious resolve to not be dominated.
When later confronted with news clippings of her sensational American murder trial, Larita handles it coolly, explaining that her first husband was terminally ill and she injected him with poison at his request. (This trial ended in an acquittal.) Having suffered enough humiliation from her in-laws, Larita plans to move out even as Victoria demands it of her. John never stops loving Larita (in his own way) but this isn't enough. His refusal to leave the nest is a deal breaker; Larita decides their marriage must end. As she's ready to drive away never to return, someone climbs into her open sports car, but it isn't John.
Based on the reading of a St. Valentine's Day Massacre news clipping, this story opens in February, yet flowers bloom, trees are green and folks play tennis in typically brief garb. Many of the songs heard or sung here are of the correct vintage. Exceptions: "You're the Top," sung by Larita and John, is from 1934. Two Noel Coward songs, "Mad About the Boy" and "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" are from 1932 and '31 respectively.
Stephan Elliott's EASY VIRTUE is a delicious treat with many absurd moments, like a crushed chihuahua, a Can-Can dance sans knickers and an outwardly bland butler who has a secret past. Recommended for all aficionados of wry British comedy.
Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 imdb viewer poll rating.
(6.6) Easy Virtue (UK/Canada-2008) - Jessica Biel/Colin Firth/Ben Barnes/Kristin Scott Thomas/Kimberly Nixon/Katherine Parkinson/Kris Marshall/Christian Brassington/Charlotte Riley/Jim McManus
OK, sure, it's not a *great* movie. It's very small-scale, taking place almost entirely in a manor house, and some of the characters are so grotesque that they verge on being cardboard. However, I was impressed by the Jessica Biel and Colin Firth characters -- both of whom come across as intelligent, sensitive, and possessed of a compelling personal darkness. The film also touches on some interesting themes, including the inadequacy of certain kinds of love. And, of course, the class system is extensively mocked.
While there are some funny moments, "Easy Virtue" is not really a laugh-riot. Actually the movie is quite sad in many ways, and to an extent the jokes are there only to make the more serious themes more palatable.
Possibly I'm overrating this movie, since I happen to like British culture and Jessica Biel happens to make my heart beat like some kind of jungle drum. That said, I do really think there's worthy stuff here. And this Blu-ray edition, while expensive, certainly does look gorgeous...
Top reviews from other countries
The story is nicely developed, starting out straight enough, but becoming increasingly outrageous as the American bride becomes tired of trying to fit in with the hostile family. The longer the dreaded visit with the in laws drags on, the bolder she gets and her exploits become quite epic. While the joke with the Chihuahua may not sit well with everybody, the hunting scene and the Can Can dancing are just hilarious. And then there is that tango and Colin Firth gets his moment to shine.
It's not a particularly memorable film, but it's nice easy watching for an evening in. I really enjoyed it. The DVD has subtitles for those who may need them and includes a goodly selection of extra features:
- Director's Commentary
- Making of Featurette
- Deleted Scenes
- Goof Reel
- Production Photo Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer
When Noel Coward wrote the play Easy virtue in 1924, it was seen primarily as an illustration of the hypocrisy of the British high society. Any independent woman was of « easy virtue ». The slurs and attacks on Larita were at the time perceived as very witty and funny.
In 2019, this 2008 DVD, based on the play, is no longer seen as funny at all. The blurb on the DVD is totally misleading. I did not even smile once. I was sorry to have purchased it, though I rather like Jessica Biel.
For a long time, both literature and the movies were teaching by means of an unhappy ending that any woman seeking empowerment would always be severely punished for it. They even invented the word " femme fatale" to stigmatize and reinforce the punishment.
The DVD Easy virtue is definitely part of this sexist tradition to teach women to stay in their place and as such, is not funny at all.
As you’d expect from a BBC production based on a Noel Coward play, this has plenty of jazz songs and dry wry humour with many slapstick moments raising lots pf one liners that aren’t always politically correct [Morris the wing nut]. The great thing about this is how the low key infighting constantly escalates to the outstanding finale and John’ seeming obliviousness to it all.
The single disc goes straight to main menu offering play, scene selection, extras [directors commentary, making of, deleted scenes, goof reel, theatrical trailer, photo gallery, other releases] and subtitles on/off. Rated PG this has no swearing but bare buttocks are seen and a couple are interrupted while having sex, also there is intense bitchiness throughout [albeit done with humour] which may not make this comfortable family viewing for all. Nonetheless this is a witty take on the British class system and 1920s attitudes, while the revelations in the closing third are thought provoking and provide a serious counterbalance.
If you like period settings, and a dash of "come uppance", this could be for you. For me, I was left with a smile on my face, which is not always the case.