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Keeping Mum [DVD]
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on 7 April 2012
Maybe I'm too politically correct, but this film came across as immoral to me. Black comedies are defined by the courage of their convictions, and Keeping Mum wusses out long before the end. In the much better Serial Mom, John Waters wasn't afraid to make Kathleen Turner a real monster. She gored men with fire pokers, made obscene phone calls and set her son's best friend on fire. We laughed because she was so outrageous that that's all we could do, and the film was a smart satire on how we glorify killers (Waters himself is a big true crime fan).
Here, when Maggie Smith brains an old man with an iron after he sees her burying his late pet, I dunno, I just didn't laugh. The film wasn't commenting on the violence and there were no humorous elements to it. Instead her murderous tendencies are presented as a quirk, like always wearing a hat or talking in a silly voice. We're invited to laugh when she cuts the brakes of several children's bikes simply because that's a sick thing to do. The children are her young charge's bullies and later the two of them watch as they go tumbling down a steep hillside.
Which brings me to why I think this film is immoral and cowardly. In Serial Mom, people were horrified by Kathleen Turner's actions. When her son and his girlfriend discovered one of her victims, the girlfriend cried that real is blood is brown, unlike movie blood, which is bright red. This was a great moment as it showed two people who fetishised violence confronted by its ugly reality. In Keeping Mum, the characters have no such reaction. They take murder in their stride. The boy laughs gleefully that his bullies are dead on returning home. Not hurt, but dead. By the end at least one character has joined dear old mum and murdered innocent, blameless people.
This could have been satire, like it was in Serial Mom, which showed characters profiting from slaughter then recoiling when faced with it. But Keeping Mum would rather water down this material with light, Vicar of Dibley-style comedy. Well, forgive me, but I don't remember the episode of Dibley where Geraldine Granger staved David Horton's head in with an iron, then roped Alice into helping her hide the body. This is like a cross between To the Manor Born and Psycho. You can't (or at least shouldn't) punctuate a lot of silliness about flaccid vicars and flower-arranging societies with psychopathic behaviour, not unless you have a point to make, which Keeping Mum clearly doesn't.
Perhaps I've mentioned Serial Mom too much in this review. Jean-Luc Godard once said: "In order to criticize a movie, you have to make another movie." In my opinion, the older and wiser Serial Mom is the perfect critique of Keeping Mum. The only high point for me was when Patrick Swayze showed up in a thong. A lot of critics cited that as a stunning low point, but I thought Swayze looked incredible. I wish he'd spent more of the film wandering about in that thong, if only to amuse and distract me from the plot.
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on 2 June 2012
I expected something funny, including maybe some slapstick in Rowan Atkinson's style. However, the movie is tasteless even to me who generally likes dark nasty british humour. The story develops predictingly, the plot is completely immoral, but worst of all, in the end they even try to convey a message about how to better your lives. I find this completely out of place. So, beware of this one, there is no comparison to "A fish called Wanda" or "Death at a Funeral" which I like excessibly. "Keeping Mum" immediately went into the garbage bin.
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on 2 March 2014
What a wonderful surprise on DSTV Television in South Africa when quite unheralded they showed 'Keeping Mum' on their Action Channel and described it as a Horror story. Because i saw that Maggie Smith was in the film and thought i can't imagine her in a horror story, i decided i would watch it and how glad i am that i did.

This film is a little gem and don't know why i have not heard of it in the last nine years(It was made in 2005). I was hesitant about seeing Rowan Atkinson in a feature film but he is excellent as the vicar of the country village of 'Little Wallop', while his wife played by Kristin Scott Thomas ('The English Patient', a film that i did not appreciate) is equally as good, while Maggie Smith as the housekeeper!!!!! is her usual superb self. Patrick Swayze, as the golf instructor, in what must have been one of his last roles before he died of cancer(You can see he is not a well man) plays his role in the plot with aplomb. The rest of the supporting cast also perform really well.

The storyline (well documented) by Amazon and previous reviewers is really excellent, the photography, music where applicable and the whole production out of the top drawer. I wish they would make more comedies of this calibre such as 'Passed away' with Bob Hoskins, they help to make the world a brighter place in these difficult times.

Give yourself a treat and see this little British gem, you will not regret it and the ending of the film is so beautifully crafted. Well done to all those involved with this production.
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on 2 October 2016
Witty, endearing, gripping, with superb performances from Rowan Atkinson, Maggie Smith and Kristin Scott-Thomas. In the
good old elegant, subtly humorous British understated style. Amazing how Maggie Smith gets everyone in the family back on
the rails - from the background (just like Jeeves) - and then fades herself away when it's all done. One lovely scene of the school
bullies bullied,another where she is spared having to use the saucepan by the intended victim having a heart attack (over something

Rowan Atkinson excelled himself in this film: I feel that Mr Bean was sometimes funny, sometimes embarrassing or a bit too
schoolboyish; Black Adder was a big improvement; Johnny English simply hilarious (had me chewing the carpet), but here he
becomes a first-rate star. And did you see his performance at the Britisn Olympics? - Like so many other slow starters, Clint
Eastwood, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, John Cleese, you name them, Rowan will give you more than your money's worth now.
Don't miss it!
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on 15 August 2015
This is one of those films I had never really considered watching when it first came out, but a friend introduced me to it and I liked it so much I got a copy for myself. Walter (Rowan Atkinson) plays a vicar who is so focused on doing the perfect job for God and his fellow villagers, that he is neglecting his family. He hasn't noticed that his wife Gloria is having an affair, his daughter is far too boy-crazy and that his son is being bullied at school. The family get a new housekeeper in Grace (Maggie Smith) who just seems to have a way of making the family warm to her, but she is hiding some very dark secrets. In my view, Smith makes this film worth watching, but she is backed up by a great cast, which also includes Patrick Swayze as Lance (the man with whom Gloria is having an affair with).

The film is funny, although this is more dark humour than the laugh-out-loud type. You do find yourself quietly laughing to yourself whilst wondering how you can find this funny. There are some bits you can predict at, but otherwise, it is best to go with the flow. I won't reveal what happens, but you just know that things will come back to haunt them one day. A decent film that I do enjoy seeing from time to time.
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on 28 December 2012
There are four central characters to this film: the frustrated wife (with adolescent daughter), a sex crazed golf pro, mysterious house keeper and the vicar. put them together in a sleepy little village and the scene is set. The roles are played admirably by Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith and Patrick Swaze who each add their part to the free flow of the story as the plot unfolds. The film drifts between drama and comedy effortlessly and Maggie Smith is simply superb. I find it difficult to put this film into a clear category of its own and there are even times it verges on becoming a farce. This takes nothing away from the fact though that it is still a very enjoyable watch. It has a steady pace throughout and keeps its secrets as long as possible. It has a couple of small drawbacks however, that prevent it being 5 star entertainment. 1. Unless you own a wide widescreen TV, you can easily miss the text at the beginning that reads "43 years ago" as it is cropped and reads only "3 years ago". Knowing the time frame is highly important to grasp the hook of the film. 2. The conclusion at the end is quite short and purely visual, blink and you'll miss it. In spite of these two short comings it's still a very good film though and well worth a view. Rowan Atkinson is a natural in the role of vicar with troubled family, Kristin Scott Thomas quietly sizzles at times but for me, it's worth a watch just for the stunning Maggie Smith performance. Good value for money and definitely worthy of a place in my film collection.
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on 28 March 2013
Plenty to enjoy in this accomplished brit flick, a gentle tone with dark humour and some genuine laughs. A great cast and well written but all somewhat undersold by a sorely lacking advertising and marketing campaign, it deserved better.

I should confess that I used to know the writer/director, Niall, from my days involved in Bristol's local media scene, or, as I like to call it, the early Ardman years -Wallace and who? Niall was always a great one for movie conversation, from Dirty Harry to controversial flicks like White Dog, you'd always get an entertaining, intelligent and informed conversation from him. He was clearly full of drive and ambition to write and direct his way out of corporates and develop a career in features, from his early vampire effort, Dawn, to the more accomplished and adult themed The Big Swap, in 1998. I'm really pleased that Niall has managed to get his shot at directing an established cast of terrific actors, in a sensibly budgeted ensemble piece like Keeping Mum. Although, having had some real success with his screenplay for White Noise, I'd rather like to see him tackle the horror genre once again. Come on Niall, don't let your initial love of all things that go bump in the night, particularly The Exorcist, go to waste, give us an 'adult' horror film, I think the audience is out there just waiting. Good Luck.
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on 6 March 2018
Oh this is a brilliant film. Very funny, dark comedy that has a great cast. Maggie smith is wonderful as is emilia fox who plays young maggie superbly, atkinson is very good, the late patrick swazye is very funny and kristin scott thomas and tamsin egerton are great too. Don't take it too seriously as some reviewers have, yes, maggie smith is a murderer, but it's just a comedy film, not a morality play! It was recommended to me and i now recommend to everyone.
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on 23 February 2010
If you have become jaded with Hollywood, if Tom , Harrison and Nicole have lost their appeal, slide this one into your DVD player and give yourself a treat. This is a gem of a comedy - and a black one at that - which will make you feel much better! With a great cast, Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas and Patrick Swayze for starters, and the wonderful Maggie Smith to follow, it just has to be a smiler and it doesn't fail to deliver. The film is set in an archetypal, sparsely populated English village where Atkinson is the vicar whose burning ambition is to deliver the perfect sermon. Scott Thomas is his sexually starved wife itching for an affair with the local golf pro played by Swayze. The dysfunctional family also has a schoolboy son who can't seem to avoid his bullying chums and a teenage daughter who is fast becoming a sex adict. Enter Maggie Smith who is hired as a housekeeper and quickly vows to improve the situation - including putting to rights a particularly annoying neighbourhood dog. This is a marvellously observed film with not a gratuitous moment in it. It all leads to a surprise conclusion. Just enjoy! Two thumbs up for this one !
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on 28 October 2013
I watch this film every time it is repeated on the television. Don't usually like Rowan Atkinson but find him hilarious in this film. I love Maggie Smith, cannot go wrong with whatever roll she plays and in this she is wonderful. The sense of humour is very dry and it had me laughing, not out loud, but to myself. I just had to purchase a copy for myself as I have never seen it for sale so took this opportunity to purchase. I think I will have to replace it with a new copy as I can see myself watching this on a regular basis. Well worth the money if anyone loves Maggie Smith.....
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