Version: 2002, starring Judi Dench, Reese Witherspoon, Frances O’Connor, Colin Firth, Rupert Everett; Anna Massey
Genre: classic; romance; comedy
Plot Summary: When two friends concoct false identities for themselves in order to win their ladies fair, hilarious situations ensue!
My Review: I can’t believe I refused to watch this movie for so long! I read the original play as a teenager, and watched the 1952 version with Michael Redgrave, but I was so totally convinced I wouldn’t like the newer film version that nothing could make me watch it. I don’t know what it was that changed my mind. Okay, so maybe I was in a Colin Firth mood!
The movie never shakes the feeling of it’s been originally a play, even though they film it on a beautiful estate, and insert automobiles and an air balloon. The acting is often exaggerated (it is a play, after all). These “faults” actually add to the movie’s charm. I found that it stayed pretty close to the original. A few liberties were taken, but this kept the interpretation unique and fresh. There’s a lot of ‘showing’ between the ‘telling.’ I also enjoyed familiar, big name actors in the main roles (especially Reese Witherspoon!).
The costumes are simply eye-candy! They were beautiful creations, almost in the vein of My Fair Lady. And I love the use of color throughout, whether it was in the makeup, flowers, clothing, or props. Lovely, clear light and beautiful gardens. It was all very beautiful to look at!
My main concern keeping me at bay from this movie for so long was about content. Actually, I was surprised it was kept to a minimum. An opening bawdy dance hall scene shows a lot of cleavage-bearing chorus girls, and later it is implied Gwendolyn gets a tattoo on her back behind. A brief shot of her buns is shown -I thought this was unnecessary- but we aren’t getting a complete eyeful. There’s a lot of kissing, but not to the point where I was getting too uncomfortable and grabbing the remote. The acting always retained the feeling of play-acting anyway, as opposed to more realistic film-acting.
This isn’t one of my top favorite movies, but I was able to enjoy it for a fun night’s entertainment. I would recommend it for those who aren’t extremely conservative.