Had to rush for this movie, since it had sold out long before I got tickets (and I got tickets on the first day general admission tickets went on sale to Amex card holders). The rush situation was a travesty. The volunteers managed to establish three different rush lines, shuffling people all over the place in a chaotic Chinese firedrill. My saint of a girlfriend showed up two and half hours early to wait in line for tickets (since I was stuck fighting the urge to nap in My Dear Enemy). Somehow in all the shuffle, she managed to get bumped from first in line to thirtieth in line, completely do to the people establishing the lines being utter dicks. However, she and several of her line mates banded together, found the theater manager, and, with the help of an off duty volunteer who was also in the rush line, managed to get the situation straightened out. The end result was that we ended up being one of the maybe six people who actually got rush tickets for the film. Massive props to the paid staff at Tribeca for actually dealing with the clusterfuck that the volunteers created. It would have been abysmal if my girlfriend had stood in line for two-and-a-half hours to only get screwed out of seeing the film because tweedledum and tweedledee couldn’t figure out how to set up a rush line.
So, on to the film. I liked it a lot. It wasn’t quite what I expected. It actually reminded me a lot of Picadilly Jim (Tribeca 2006), though without the era-bending costuming and set dressing. Easy Virtue remains firmly rooted in its 1920’s ethos, though it definitely flashes some modern muscle with its liberated-woman main character. Jessica Biel plays an American race car driver who meets and marries a charming young Englishman while racing in the Riviera. She returns with him to his family’s ancestral manor buried deep in the English countryside. Colin Firth plays her rather weak-chinned husband, who whilst being all charming proves completely ineffectual at mediating between his new bride and his mother. His mother who is shocked and appalled by the mere idea of an American in the family (and even more appalled that she is a scandalous one to boot) declares war on the new bride, in a battle for the heart and mind of the son. The rest of the film unfolds in cuttingly sarcastic set pieces and passive aggressive trench warfare as neither of the two strong-willed women will back down. The rest of the household is quickly split into side (the servants and father siding with Ms. Biel, while the sisters support their mother) and zany antics ensue. The film lacks the manic glee of Picadilly Jim (intentionally, I think), but still delivers quite a lot of fun. Four out of five.