December 20, 2010

Justify My Netflix: The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

Today's movie: The Importance of Being Earnest, 2002 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because later this month, I'll be catching my friend Linda Gillum in a new Chicago production of this infamous Oscar Wilde play, and thought I'd do a little catching up on the actual story before doing so.

The reality: Niiiiiice. And that's because director Oliver Parker takes an inventive approach towards the cinematic translation of this notoriously talky play, a challenge that has faced filmmakers since the dawn of that medium; not only does he film in the actual sumptuous locations only referred to in the stage script, he literally manifests some of the subtext that Wilde cleverly hints at in his dialogue, for example filming the wantonly pagan, Pre-Raphaelite erotic fantasies that the female character Cecily has regarding her ward's "dangerous" city-living brother, or by emphasizing the urban character Gwendolen's obsession with the name "Ernest" by literally showing her getting a tattoo of it on her bum at a Chinese opium den in London's Victorian-Era East End. Now combine this with Wilde's very funny storyline, which for those who don't know concerns two young male upper-class friends, one who primarily lives in the city and one in the country, and who have both invented naughty dopplegangers for when they want to go slumming in the other environment; and you have a highly entertaining adaptation when all is said and done, one that keeps the spirit of the original play intact while still updating it for a modern visual sensibility. It comes highly recommended to both Wilde fans and those just interested in Victorian humor in general.

Strangest piece of trivia: Finty Williams, who plays the young version of the spinster Lady Bracknell, is the real-life daughter of Dame Judi Dench, who plays the older version.

Worth your time? Yes

Filed by Jason Pettus at 4:10 PM, December 20, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |