Jenny and I saw Easy Virtue at the State theatre in Grand Traverse, Michigan this weekend. An enjoyable movie in an incredible theatre — that’s what the cinema’s all about.
Easy Virtue adapts a Noel Coward play for the big screen, following the adventures of Larita Whitaker as she meets her new husband’s very English family. As with many such plays (I’ve seen Blythe Spirit and Hay Fever), there’s quite a bit of nasty carping and funny zings to accompany the well-heeled people acting viciously toward one another. Some thoughts:
- Biel plays the jaunty, full-of-life and no-time-for-nonsense Larita convincingly. Colin Firth does an enjoyable turn as the war-damaged Jim, and Kristin Scott Thomas plays icy cold better than anybody.
- Firth’s gloomy, damaged-by-life guy was much more enjoyable here than in Then She Found Me, which was much less pleasant to watch, overall.
- My favorite moment in the film, which typifies its Englishness, was when Larita pulls off her driving cap to reveal her trampy bleach-blonde hair. The gasps among the ladies of John’s family capture the feelings of the family perfectly.
- I drooled over the two story, wraparound library filled with delicious old tomes. And I roared at the hilarious kill-the-dog sequence. I don’t think I ever imagined that I might find myself typing the phrase hilarious kill-the-dog sequence.
- This film excels at making you hate its villains. I wondered, though, whether Mrs. Whitaker finds any sympathetic members in the audience. While I can certainly see where she comes from, I found myself really disliking her, siding wholly with Larita. But I’ve also discovered that sometimes the open-and-shut obviousness of some villains reveals more about my own sympathies than the realities of the film.
If you have an opportunity to visit the State Theatre in Grand Traverse, Michigan, do so. The gorgeous old theatre is community owned and run, a non-profit theatre that shows indie and documentary films and is staffed mostly by volunteers. There’s a joiux de cinema about the place that I’ve rarely felt before; one can’t help but smile under the simulated stars on the ceiling or listening to the organ player was one waits for the film to start.