Films & Schedules

  • Easy Virtue

  • Stephan Elliott

93 minutes

Production Company:
Ealing Studios/ Joe Abrams Productions/ Odyssey Entertainment/ Endgame Entertainment/BBC Films/Prescience/Fragile Films
Executive Producer:
James Spring, Douglas E. Hanson, Cindy W. Kirven, George McGhee, Ralph Kamp, Louise Goodsill, Paul Brett, Peter Nichols, Tim Smith
Barnaby Thompson, Joe Abrams, James D. Stern
Stephan Elliott, Sheridan Jobbins, based on the play by Noel Coward
Production Designer:
John Beard
Martin Kenzie
Sue Blainey
Simon Gershon, Matt Skelding
Marius De Vries
Principal Cast: Jessica Biel, Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Barnes, Kimberly Nixon, Katherine Parkinson

International Sales Agent:
Odyssey Entertainment

Monday September 0809:00PM VISA SCREENING ROOM (ELGIN) Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Wednesday September 1002:30PM VISA SCREENING ROOM (ELGIN) Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 1210:30PM ISABEL BADER THEATRE Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

The pedigree is to be envied: based on the play by Noel Coward, which was first adapted by Alfred Hitchcock during the silent era, Easy Virtue is the epitome of British wit. Combine those names with a cast led by Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas and – as the American interloper – Jessica Biel, and the result offers all the delights of wicked, high-toned comedy. Bringing it all together is Stephan Elliott, a director with a sure hand for such giddy, savage fare, best known for The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Larita (Biel), the American, is a Jazz Age race-car driver. After impulsively tying the knot in Monte Carlo with young Englishman John Whittaker (Ben Barnes), she travels to England to meet her groom's privileged and batty family. Naturally, they hate her. John's mother, Mrs. Whittaker (Scott Thomas), and his sisters Hilda and Marion (Kimberly Nixon and Katherine Parkinson) do their best to sabotage the newlyweds and banish their brother's shocking new wife. Only in the family's patriarch, Mr. Whittaker (Firth), does the young bride find acceptance, and the two develop a bond founded on their mutual appreciation for motorbikes and flouting social etiquette.

Elliott directs the ensemble cast with verve bordering on glee, bringing his own wit and style to this sparkling Noel Coward confection. Scott Thomas delivers her barbed dialogue with delicious timing, while Firth counters her pinched sophistication with droll one-liners. Biel, who shows a new talent for this material, more than keeps pace, supplying some of the film's most entertaining zingers and sight gags. The look of the Whittaker estate is gorgeous, the visual style quotes and plays with the conventions of the era, and the music is positively radical. Period pop mingles with flapper reworkings of more recent tunes, including infectious versions of Carwash and When the Going Gets Tough.

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.

Cameron Bailey

Stephan Elliott was born in Sydney, Australia. He began his career as an assistant director before turning to screenwriting and directing. His filmography includes Frauds (93), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (94), Welcome to Woop Woop (97), Eye of the Beholder (99) and Easy Virtue (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award