It may very well be true that we no longer have Victorian values of which the films makes a mockery, however a story that's truly good is timeless. Oscar Wilde is timeless and so is this movie. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST picks you up from the get-go and doesn't let you down.
"The Importance Of Being Earnest," which is based on the famous play by the same title, takes place in 1890's England. The film follows Jack Worthing (Colin Firth), a wealthy young bachelor who resides in the country with a young ward named Cecily (Reese Witherspoon) while making trips as often as possible to London. Such trips are excused by Jack's invention of an ill behaved younger brother named Earnest. In London Jack is joined by an amigo by the name of Algie (Rupert Everett), a gentleman bachelor of equal (if not exceeding) disrepute. Algie's cousin, Gwendolen (Francis O'Connor) proves to be the object of Jack's affection, however she too loves him - as Earnest. Sounds like bliss, however Gwendolen's mother, Lady Bracknell (Judi Dench) refuses to allow Jack's (or Earnest, as they know him) hand in marriage due to his mysterious parental origins.
What ensues further is a hilarious tale of mistaken identity. Algie arrives in Jack's country manor and pretends to be Jack's brother Earnest in order to meet Cecily and falls for her. Meanwhile Jack awaits Gwendolen's arrival. They can't both be Earnest...
Director Oliver Parker does justice to Oscar Wilde's play. He takes the play and transforms it to the screen flawlessly. He uses the format of the screen, rather than just transforming the play directly. There is a series of imaginative flashes and musical interludes which blend well. The job of a director is to take the words of a playwright and imagine them. This is something that a true director must do. Parker has a clear vision and follows through it.
The more technical aspects of the film help create an atmosphere that is essential to the viewers emotional involvement in the film. What stands out the most in terms of technical accomplishments is the lighting. It actually communicates visual ideas and makes the picture jump out of the scene. The great period costumes, make up artistry and cinematography all really help the picture come alive. If it weren't for the warm and intimate nature of these elements, the viewer would have felt quite isolated from the picture as a whole.
The cast is probably the greatest attraction to the film. The cast includes some extremely respectable and often colorful personas. Tom Wilkinson as Reverend Canon Chasuble, Firth, Everett, Witherspoon, Dench and O'Connor, all turn in decent performances. This is not the most difficult task however, considering the strong humorous text and interesting character. The greatest chemistry is between Colin Firth and Rupert Everett who exchange an ample of witty remarks in their dialogue. Earnest reunited Everett and Parker who have previously partnered on a different Wilde adaptation, A Perfect Husband. From Everett's work here, it's easy to see why the director chose to follow up with him.
The Importance Of Being Earnest is mostly a delightful film to watch on the big screen. The setting, the cinematography, the director and the cast all put on a delightful adaptation of Oscar Wilde's play. Although this film is quite well done, unfortunately it's not exceptional. It's a pretty standard Hollywood movie, with interesting bits and battles of the wits here and there. You'll laugh, you'll gasp, you'll delight and you'll go home feeling happy. What more can you ask for?
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