Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
on 4 February 2010
The year is 1928, and young playboy John is bringing his new bride to his parent's country estate. His possessive mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) is fuming over the marriage and horrified to meet Larita (Jessica Biel), his outspoken, race car-driving, and slightly older wife. John's father (Colin Firth), an unhappy veteran of WWI, is the only one in the family who seems to like Larita.
Based on a dramatic play by Noel Coward but rewritten by the director, this comedy of manners doesn't quite succeed. Coward's wit is there, but all of the characters are equally acerbic from the start, tossing around zingy one-liners at breakneck speed; no one is ever vulnerable or sympathetic and the dialogue sounds forced and unnatural. Biel is neither likeable nor believable as the roaring twenties belle and she over-enunciates each word like a stage actress trying to reach the top balcony. Nobody plays a snooty aristocrat as well as Thomas, but the weak script makes her a one-dimensional witch. Firth still looks too young to play a grown man's father and his shell-shocked veteran role is poorly developed. Ben Barnes (John) looks suitably callow but is unappealing. Kris Marshall steals the show as a funny butler.
This isn't a terrible movie, but it is a disappointing one. 2.5 stars.