The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

"Excellent"

The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) Review


The Importance of Being Earnest is a sharp, humorous look at the duality of romance and the fear of commitment, served up on a delicate and witty plate in this summer season of comic book heroism and galactic space battles.

The story revolves around two dashing English gentlemen in the 1890s - John "Jack" Worthing (Colin Firth) and Algy Moncrieff (Rupert Everett) - and their trials and tribulations in the games of love and marriage under the moniker of Ernest. Jack spends his days watching over his bookish charge Cecily Cardew (Reese Witherspoon) - the granddaughter of his adopted father - at his country estate. When his restless spirit calls for adventure, he travels to London and visits his wayward city brother "Ernest." In London, Jack becomes "Ernest" and partakes in decadence with his affluent but reckless best friend Algy and ends up madly in love with Algy's sophisticated society cousin Gwendolen Fairfax (Frances O'Connor) - who has a strange love for the name of "Ernest."

Meanwhile, Algy has his own alter ego named Bunbury, a country-dwelling invalid friend who helps him avoid social engagements with his uppity social butterfly aunt, Lady Bracknell (Judi Dench), as well as the local bill collectors. During a trip to London, Jack proposes marriage to Gwendolen, which is halted by Lady Bracknell's refusal of the proposal based up Jack's inability to produce proof of his lineage: He was found abandoned as a babe in a London train station cloak room. As predictably as a Three's Company episode, all parties end up converging in the countryside in pursuit of the truth.

In the transition from stage to silver screen in this umpteenth adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play, director Oliver Parker employs elements from both the well-known three act version of The Importance of Being Earnest as well as the original four-act play Wilde penned, which better fleshes out the romance between Cecily's tutor Miss Prism (Anna Massey) and the mild-mannered local clergyman Chasuble (Tom Wilkinson). The film is adeptly directed with a strong visual sense and cinematography that captures both the lush landscapes in the countryside and the drab, gray streets and pubs of London. The film also has a wonderful selection of costuming and wardrobe selections.

The crucible of the film lies in the clever casting and outstanding acting of Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Frances O'Conner, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench, and Tom Wilkinson in conjunction with a script that sparkles and crackles with memorable Wilde one-liners. Despite the chaotic character developments and crisscrossing subplots in the first thirty minutes, the film finally settles into a groove, which keeps the laughs rolling at a zippy pace.

DVD special features include a spare and mumbled audio commentary from director Oliver Parker plus a making-of documentary. The movie stands very well, though, on its own.

Know what I mean, Vern?



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.