DVD/Blu-ray review: EASY VIRTUE

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release date: Sept 15th, 2009
MSRP: DVD $28.96, Blu-ray $39.95

Director: Stephan Elliott
Stars: Jessica Biel, Colin Firth, Kristen Scott Thomas
Writers: Sheridan Jobbins & Stephan Eliiott (screenplay), Noel Coward (play)

Jessica Biel & Noel Coward. There is a combo that sounds about as good a mix as oil and water. But work they do in Stephan Elliott’s Easy Virtue.

Cultures clash when John Whittaker takes his new wife Larita (Jessica Biel), an American race car driver, back to his childhood estate in rural England. Her appearance seriously disrupts the household, especially for her new mother-in-law. It is not just that she is an older, brash American, but also because Larita’s appearance ruins a carefully planned marriage between John and the daughter of a wealthier neighbor and family friend.

Despite her attempts to fit into the household and establish a bond with her mother-in-law, Larita finds herself more and more isolated, as well as bored and frustrated. To make matters worse, what was to be a short visit becoming a never-ending stay as John, seemingly oblivious to his bride’s discomfort, soon falls back into the life of his childhood.

After trying hard to fit in, Larita opts to simply be herself and let the chips fall where they may. Aside from the help, the only member of the Whittaker family she seems to connect with is John’s father (Colin Firth), who seems to have left part of himself in France during WW1.

Elliot and co do a nice job of playing up the humor, yet also getting to the core of many of the characters. The film flows fairly well and delivers an ending that is satisfying and really was one of the only I see happening working. By the time the end came, I knew what had to occur and was completely in Larita’s camp. There was one last twist that I hoped for and was delighted by. It saved the film from being too depressing.

EV is presented in 1080p with a ratio of 2.35:1. The outdoor scenes shine, with the lush green mxing nicely with the period costumes. The attention to detail in the 1920s sets make this quite enjoyable and there is a dancing scene, featuring the Can-Can, that is rather bold and eye-catching.

Dolby TrueHD 5.1 is used and does a good job. The show features numerous Cole Porter tunes to great effect and the clarity of sound really helped me with some of the English accents. There are also tracks for German, Portuguese and Spanish as well as subtitles for English, Spanish, German, Turkish, and Portuguese.

Certainly some credit must go to the source material, but Elliott and co deliver an entertaining film with nice performances by everyone involved. Biel and Thomas play off one another very well, as do Fith and Biel. This is a period peice that can be enjoyed by folks that don’t normally go for historical flicks.

Order EASY VIRTUE on Blu-ray or DVD.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.