Total Film - 12/01/2008 4 stars out of 5 -- "Biel is a revelation....It's playful, it's elegant, it's fizzing with lacerating wit....It's a welcome jolt of fresh air to see a Brit period piece you can just kick back and enjoy."
Empire - 12/01/2008 3 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t's to everyone's credit that this loose, screwball adaptation of a Coward melodrama works as well as it does, and emerges as something strange but fresh."
Los Angeles Times - 05/22/2009
"Firth is an effortless actor, and he works that magic again here....There is a clever sophistication to the story..."
USA Today Critic - 05/22/2009 3 stars out of 4 -- "The 1924 Noel Coward play has been adapted skillfully by director Stephan Elliott, and the lovely cinematography enhances the cheeky dialogue."
Rolling Stone - 05/28/2009 3 stars out of 5 -- "Jessica Biel is funny and touching....Director Stephan Elliott uncorks a rare vintage of laughs tinged with heartache."
Chicago Sun-Times - 05/27/2009 3 stars out of 4 -- "Jessica Biel will surprise some with her skill....She makes Larita independent and able..."
Entertainment Weekly - 09/18/2009
"Colin Firth steals the show, purring droll Wodehousian asides." -- Grade: B
Adapted from a Noel Coward play, EASY VIRTUE is essentially a tale of Old World manners vs. New World freedom. The year is 1929, and John Whitaker (Ben Barnes) has just married a feisty American racecar driver named Larita (Jessica Biel). John is the eldest of the Whitakers--a prim English family--and when he returns home with Larita on his arm, his mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) is none too pleased. John's choice of a loud, brash American has raised everyone's eyebrows, including his sisters, Hilda (Kimberly Nixon) and Marion (Katherine Parkinson). The only person who seems to approve of Larita is Mr. Whitaker--John's weary, put-upon father (Colin Firth). Try as she might, Larita has a hard time impressing the icy, unforgiving Mrs. Whitaker, and indeed, the entire Whitaker clan proves to be a rather eccentric, unhappy bunch. John had promised Larita a short visit, but due to pressure from his mother, they stay longer than planned. Time drags on, and the friction between Mrs. Whitaker and Larita only gets worse. When Hilda digs up something scandalous from Larita's past, tensions bubble to a boiling point, and Larita is forced to face some rather hard truths about herself and her new husband.
For fans of period films, EASY VIRTUE is a visual treat, set on a sprawling country estate and with gorgeous and impeccable costumes. Director Stephan Elliot (THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT) tries to inject a bit of modern zing by filling scenes with contemporary renditions of Cole Porter songs, while Biel and Scott Thomas breathe some life into their lightweight characters. Though the source play, with its airy plot, isn't one of Coward's most popular works, fans of Colin Firth's work in costume comedies and dramas will be delighted with the actor's performance here.
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