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Easy Virtue a light concoction 

The friction in Easy Virtue crosses class, manner and continent.

The friction in Easy Virtue crosses class, manner and continent. John Whittaker (Ben Barnes) returns to his family's British estate with his American wife Larita (Jessica Biel). For John's mother (Kristin Scott Thomas), pent-up with anger over the decline of the aristocracy post-WWI, Larita's carefree manner is vile. The film version of Noel Coward's stage play amusingly presents a friction between the Whittakers' veneer of liberal sophistication, and Larita's liberation. Thomas' icy performance as family matriarch would only be more commanding if she weren't unfairly written as such an asshole.

Mostly, though, Australian director Stephan Elliot (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) strikes an agreeably light concoction on the difference between manner and virtue. When Larita breaks the rules by befriending the manor's servants, the fraud of class division is exposed against basic principles.

Mind your manners at palermo@thecoast.ca.

Easy Virtue
Rated PG-13 (MPAA) · 93 min. · 2009
Director: Stephan Elliott
Writer: Noel Coward
Producer: Joseph Abrams
Cast: Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth, Kimberley Nixon, Katherine Parkinson, Kris Marshall, Christian Brassington, Charlotte Riley and Jim McManus

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