I found this delightful cinematic gem while searching for movies starring Matthew Goode, one of the best young English actors today. He is perfect here as the oldest son in this singular family: handsome, droll, hedonistic, supercilious, fully flexing his considerable comedic muscles.
This is a group of superb actors playing off each other, generous to a fault, and having a ball. The fun they have is sublimely infectious.
The movie is a vibrant and winning portrayal of Gerald Durrell's memoir of his family, just prior to WWII, living on Corfu. Durrell, who became a leading zoologist and wrote 37 books, cut his chops on Corfu, scoping out scorpions and other forms of wildlife dangerous and benign. He was about thirteen, with an older sister and two older brothers, equally quirky, individual, and funny.
His sister discovers boys - and men - wreaking much havoc on the island. His older brother, played perfectly by adorable Russell Tovey (History Boys), has a mania for hunting and shooting. And Larry (author Lawrence Durrell), played by Goode, is an obsessed writer who smokes, lounges about, and poses. He invites an amusing group of eccentric friends, including author Henry Miller, who writes in the nude and considers clothing the last refuge of the bourgeoisie. His family find them somewhat less entertaining.
Their summer is also populated by other characters with whom they interact: two British tutors, a Turkish boyfriend, the family's Greek mentor, housemaid, and a customs agent who confiscates lingerie and linen.
Imelda Staunton, as the mother of this brood, holds the whole mess together and has never been more enjoyable.
Great episodic story, beautiful photography, clever editing, highly imaginative music, smart script, delightful acting. The 85 minutes fly by and leave us wanting much more of this endearing family.