Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Mad About the Boy. . .

The only decent shot I managed to get from my perch way up in the balcony and Colin had to blink! Last night I was at the Toronto Film Festival world premiere of Easy Virtue, based on Noel Coward's 1924 play. From left to right in the photo is director Stephan Elliott (best known for directing the fun and campy The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), and stars of the film Ben Barnes, Jessica Biel and of course Colin Firth. Kristin Scott Thomas who also stars was alas, unable to make the screening.

Glamour aside, it was a very good adapation and well worth seeing when it hits theatres. The story remains essentially the same as the play - John (played by Barnes) unexpectedly brings home his older, more sophisticated wife Larita (Biel), to his staid and shocked British family. Larita then wreaks havoc with her wild and decadent ways but in the ensuing battle, particularly with her formidable mother-in-law (played wonderfully by Scott Thomas - a cross between the Maggie Smith character in Gosford Park and Emma Thompson's recent Lady Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited), she's oppressed and stifled by her new environment and decides to escape - but not before one last defiant gesture. As you'd expect from material dervived from a Coward play, the dialogue is witty and frothy, but Elliott has added many new scenes with some very polished and comic gags and there is some intriguing camera work (watch for a terrific shot of Scott Thomas looming on the shiny surface of a black snooker ball as it rolls towards her and the audience). Some of the characters have been expanded (especially the father played by Firth, who becomes a disillusioned war veteran with survivor guilt). The ending has also changed somewhat, but I don't think anyone will complain - it's rather delicious. Firth fans will also be extremely happy with this film - there's a wonderfully sexy scene where he dances the tango with Biel. Gasps escaped from the hundreds of female fans in the audience - me included. It's not often that a film can improve on the original source material, but this one really does it. I had a marvellous time.

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