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June 04, 2009

Easy Virtue

Easy_virtue Stephan Eliott's Noel Coward adaptation hits a lilting comic gallop in '20s era England. Jessica Biel plays Larita, a race car-driving American interloper to Kristen Scott Thomas' snooty matriarch Mrs. Whitaker, whose son John (Ben Barnes) Larita is engaged to marry. Colin Firth lends the film an undercurrent of disillusionment as Mr. Whittaker, a layabout aristocrat who refuses to ignore the dire social conditions surrounding his lovely but crumbling estate. Although the filmmaker fumbles with connecting Noel Coward and Cole Porter tunes to the film's narrative fabric, Elliott wisely plays to the seething conflict between Larita and Mrs. Whitaker. Restrained in its execution, "Easy Virtue" is a nearly bawdy take on women's liberation in post Victorian England, preceeding the Great Depression.
Rated PG-13. 89 mins. (B-) (Three Stars)

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