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The Importance Of Being Earnest

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Importance Of Being Earnest

Starring: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth
Director: Oliver Parker
Rated: PG
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: May 2002
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Frances O'Connor, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Anna Massey, Patrick Godfry, Charles Kay, Edward Fox

Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

In this updating of Oscar Wilde's comedy of ruses, Colin Firth and Rupert Everett play 19th century British bachelors who impersonate "Ernest," a figment of their imaginations, to facilitate affairs of the heart with Frances O'Connor and Reese Witherspoon. It's a funny, wicked Victorian love story about mistaken identity - and the identities we choose. It seems John "Jack" Worthing (Colin Firth) is besotted by Gwendolyn Fairfax (Frances O'Connor), the cousin of his dandy, disreputable friend Algernon Moncrieff (Rupert Everett), who, in turn, slyly fancies Jack's young ward, Cecily (Reese Witherspoon). But both women are fascinated by "Ernest," the non-existent, ill-behaved, London-based younger brother whom Jack has invented to allow him to leave his dull country manor to escape to the city as often as possible. Adding to the romantic folly, Cecily's tutor Miss Prism (Anna Massey) falls in love with shy Doctor Chasuble (Tom Wilkinson) and hides a dark secret. Mingling with an all-English cast, Reese Witherspoon's flawlessly clipped accent is solid, keeping pace with Colin Firth, Rupert Everett and Frances O'Connor. And it's always fun to watch Judi Dench play a cranky dowager like Gwendolyn's mother, Lady Bracknell. Unfortunately, however, this film is not as nimbly executed as writer/director Oliver Parker's previous romp, "The Ideal Husband." Tending toward naturalism, Parker gets too serious and his choice of Dixieland jazz for the soundtrack is discordant. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Importance of Being Earnest" is a frothy, farcical 5. Better yet: rent the new DVD of Anthony Asquith's cheeky, droll 1952 version, with Sir Michael Redgrave and Dame Edith Evans, which makes the most of Wilde's hilarious humor and heart.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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