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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Movie Review: "Easy Virtue"

Watched Easy Virtue last night. Neither my daughter nor wife would admit to putting it in the Blockbuster queue. I gave it half a star.

According to the movie's marketing folks: “A glamorous American woman enters into a spirited battle of wits with her disapproving English mother-in-law in this period romantic comedy.”

Well, that’s one way of putting it.


Here’s another way to look at it: In modern Anglo-American cinema, if it seems at first that the father of a household is the only reasonable member, the audience is being set up. It took less than 15 minutes to realize Dad and Daughter-in-Law would be running away together in the final frame. The only questions were: one, how much would the plot have to strain believability to make this ending seem less depraved to the audience than it should; and, two, how many clich├ęd cheap-shots could be aimed at English aristocracy before the fade-out. The answer to the second question is, quite a lot of cheap shots, including pretty much all of the usual: stupidity, blood-thirstiness, sexual repression, blah, blah, blah, you could write the list yourself.

The first question is a bit tougher: how do you run off with your husband’s father without seeming to be the skank you in fact must be? This question is indeed so much tougher the movie doesn’t bother to try to answer it. It settles for the ‘why-don’t-we-just-agree-we’re-different?’ scene between the young husband and wife, and a truly laughable (not to be confused with 'funny') ‘final-straw’ scene between the older couple.

The term “easy virtue” is a somewhat archaic way of referring to women who were, in the opinion of society, quicker than they should be in allowing themselves to be bent over a piece of furniture. It’s possible the makers of this execrable film intend the title to apply to the sensibilities of the audience as well.

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