As is often the case with comedy, a light-hearted tale is actually a depiction of a desperate situation. “Easy Virtue” is a beautifully crafted romp through the country life of a well-to-do family in 1920’s England. The Whittaker family are the residents of the Manor and its extensive gardens and grounds. They are Lord of the Manor Jim Whittaker (played by Colin Firth), Lady Veronica Whittaker (by Kristin Scott-Thomas), their son and heir John Whittaker (played by Ben Barnes), his wife Larita (Jessica Biel) and his two sisters. The comedy comes first when John brings his wife home to meet the family for the first time. The fastidious and status-driven Veronica is utterly shocked and dismayed to find that her only son has married “an American” and she spends the entire movie worrying about portraying the right image and finding reasons not to like or accept Larita. John’s two sisters follow this lead and make family life very difficult for Larita as she tries to settle in. Lord Jim is delighted with his son’s choice.
We soon discover that Jim is a disinterested family member and is quite inert when it comes to managing the large estate. His cynical remarks and witty banter towards his wife and family is peppered throughout the movie. We soon discover, however, that he is disinterested as a result of the horrors he experienced in World War I and this is played out very well. There are several other key issues that are bubbling under the surface of this “happy” family and they create a web of deception, intrigue and interest that actually develops into poignant drama.
The characters are all portrayed expertly – Colin Firth is fabulous as Lord Jim, Lady Veronica is wonderfully played by Kristin Scott Thomas and Jessica Biel is a very beautiful and believable “American” Larita.
The real gem of the movie is Furber – the butler – played by Kris Marshall. He is totally delightful.
This is a lovely movie – based on a play by Noel Coward.