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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 1 October 2010
I've already discovered that people don't vote on reviews because of their content but on whether or not they tally with their own views so I will expect to see 'not helpful' votes pile up but here goes anyway.

If you're looking for a mildly entertaining bit of froth with generally good actors you will probably enjoy this. What you will NOT see is Oscar Wilde's 'Ernest'. Nowhere that I can see does it say that this is heavily adapted from the play but it is, there are too many changes to the script to quote them all but, to site the worst aberation, the fact that Jack is referred to as Algenon's YOUNGER (not older as Willde wrote it) brother towards the end makes the whole premise of the plot nonsense. OK, Algie's played as a bit of an ibecile but surely he would have known he once had a brother around the house so why should it come as such a surprise?

If you want to see a somewhat dated but beautifully played version of the original get the old Redgrave/Dennison/Evans DVD. I bought this as a Judi Dench completist (sic) and funny as her performance undoubtedly is, Edith Evans simply IS Lady Bracknell.
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on 2 December 2013
The brilliance of Wilde's play lies in the contrast between the prim, English manners of the characters, especially the female ones, and the absurd things those characters say. The more unsubtly haughty those characters are, the starker the contrast, and the funnier the result.

The people behind this production did not understand that. Rather than go over the top with Victorian stuffiness as they should have done, they went for a modern, sexy edginess that dulled the contrast and killed laughs. They tried, foolishly, to supplement Wilde's wit with their own.

The actors, moreover, delivered their lines with too little panache. They under-acted in a play that cries out for over-acting.
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on 9 January 2005
Wilde's fantastic play could have not asked for a better adaptation than this. The characters have a fantastic chemisty on screen and fit into their own personal roles wonderfully. Firth and Everett are the perfect orphan boy and playboy turned earnest. I don't image many will be unfamiliar with the plot but here's a quick summary:
Firth plays Jack, who lives in the country and heads to the city under the name of Earnst. Everett plays Algernon who lives in the town but heads out to the country under the name of earnst. Why? Well, Jack is in love with Lady bracknell's daughter who dreams of marrying a man named earnest. Algernon inteneds to marry Jack's ward, Cecily, by going to Jack's house (while Jack is in town) posing as Jack's fictitious brother Earnst. (Jack say's to his country folk he's off to town to visit his brother earnst) Cecily also wants to marry a man named earnst. Confused yet...I am!!
Annnyyyway, Jack comes back from town only to find Algernon flirting with Cecily and pretending to be jack's fake brother. Jack is astonished but doesn't blow his cover because Algie knows he's pretending his name is also earnst so he can marry Gwendoline Bracknell (algie's cousin). And so ensues a hilarious tale of thse two men attempting to explain who they really are and what they're up to to their adoring fiances.
As is expected of Wilde, this story is full of quirky one liners;
"Are your parents living?"
"My parents are both dead."
"To lose one parent in unfortunate. To lose two could be considered careless."
The cast are excellent so I honestly can't say who my favourite is. Jst know that this adaptation is first class and a bargain at the price being offered. Enjoy.
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on 9 June 2003
As a big fan of Oscar Wilde and someone who had greatly enjoyed the recent film version of "An Ideal Husband", I had high expectations of this film. Sadly my expectations were dashed in every respect. Of course one expects changes from stage play to film and this had been done with great success in "An Ideal Husband". However, such changes need to be done in the spirit of the original piece otherwise the result is likely to be a disaster. Unfortunately, Oliver Parker proved unable to pull off the coup de grace for a second time and this film really doesn't work at all.
The casting was wrong (Rupert Everett and Colin Firth were both too old) and the tone was wrong. The play had elements of farce but it was above all a comedy of manners. The film makers seem to think that a comedy of manners would be too dull for modern tastes and that a fully blown farce would have more appeal. The musical score also underlines this. The change of setting from fin de siecle to 1920’s is unobjectionable but seems to serve no discernible purpose. All in all this felt to me more like a Carry On film than an attempt to translate Oscar Wilde’s work to the modern cinema.
If you want to see a faithful and entertaining adaptation of this piece I suggest you try the classic 1952 film or the BBC’s excellent edition in the Essential Oscar Wilde box set.
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As a long-time reviewer and fan of this new format - I am constantly yo-yoing between praise for BLU RAY reissues and damning them. Some films are massively enhanced by the format's capacity to show more - others are either made worse by it - or have suffered at the hands of a lazy and sloppy transfer. Well I'm pleased to say that "The Importance Of Being Earnest" is in the former - because the print on this 2012 BLU RAY reissue is TRULY GORGEOUS - shockingly so even.

Set in 1890's British upper-class society - "The Importance Of Being Earnest" was a lavish 2002 Ealing Studios/Miramax production - so the BLU RAY should shine when it comes to 'detail' - and that's indeed what you get. Dandy clothing, ladies refinery, interiors of men's clubs, alleyways in London, carriages to the country, Stately homes and their gardens, cucumber sandwiches and tea on the lawn, vicars and language tutors - it all looks beautiful.

Throw in Wilde's clever jabbing at society and a cast thoroughly enjoying themselves with witty material (especially Rupert Everett as the good-for-nothing Algernon Moncrieff and Judi Dench as the matriarchal Lady Augusta) - and you're on a reissue winner. Americans Reese Witherspoon and Frances O'Connor show a deftness of touch too, while Colin Firth is as effortlessly charming as ever. I also particularly like Tom Wilkinson and Anna Massey as the elderly couple whose courtship goes unexpressed but is so deeply touching. And Edward Fox as Lane - Algernon's old butler - constantly evading Algernon's need for praise (dialogue above) with wily replies...shutting Algernon up by mentioning vulgar things like 'wages'...

Director Oliver Parker shows a genuine empathy to the material and his adaptation of the play is superb. But more than anything - you feel the 'presence' of genius behind it all - the master - the immortal OSCAR WILDE. Every sentence and set scene is craftsmanship - and few have ever matched him.

Some would say that "The Importance Of Being Earnest" is very slight fare for a film - fluff even - and should remain in a local theatre with a local troupe. I disagree. This big-screen version is an absolute delight and made with real affection and pride.

To sum up - if you're a fan of this lovely film - then you need to own it on BLU RAY. Why it's like finding a baby in a handbag at Victoria Station - first class all the way...
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on 9 November 2004
This updated version of an old classic tries too hard to better Wilde's own impeccable script by trying to appeal to more modern tastes. Its modifications, such as Gwendolyn's car & tattoo, Algie's jazz playing and running from the law, give the whole story a less credible air. It's not so much that the film has been updated, more mixed-dated, and the laughs seem cheap; too much has been taken from the imagination and dialogue through the excesses on screen.

However, although Colin Firth and Rupert Everett may seem too old, they feasibly carry off their roles. Dame Judy has the unenviable task of delivering lines immortalised by Dame Edith Evans; her reinterpretation is creative and appropriate, although the playful smile at the corner of her mouth somewhat reduced her traditional authority.

The film was enjoyable, but it's earnestly flippant direction prevented it from being the hillarious comedy of manners of Wildes' original play
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on 10 December 2003
This is one film that I would love to keep on DVD to watch over and over. It has such a feel good factor I can't imagine anyone not liking it. The casting i feel could not have been better, with Colin Firth having a real 'wow' factor. But you really feel that they all belong, to the time , to each other. I rarely watch a film and feel completely enveloped even when at the cinema. I was oblivious to my surroundings at the time and I so wished to be there. A must as a Christmas present I want everyone to see this film.
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In Victorian England, two young ladies are convinced they can only fall in love with men named "Earnest," so wealthy Jack (Colin Firth) and his scoundrel friend Algernon (Rupert Everett) adopt that name and the result is unrestrained hilarity. (NOT.)

This misguided version of Oscar Wilde's well-loved stage play suffers from poor direction at every turn. The sets and costumes are too brightly colored, the actors are too tanned and robust, and their mannerisms are so distinctly modern that one never believes it's the 1890s. One really vulgar addition to the original has two characters getting their beloved's names tattooed, colorfully, on their bums. *shudder* Colin Firth and Rupert Everett are both handsome, but they don't capture the period and they often mumble, which is unforgivable since the language is the best part of the show. The two young ladies are sadly miscast: Although Reese Witherspoon does a respectable English accent, she has to work so hard at it that it's distracting and she looks very 21st century. Frances O'Connor as Jack's love interest is pushy and unlikable. The real star of the film is Judi Drench who displays the perfect regal elegance and snobbiness her part requires.

The movie is pretty boring until the last 30 minutes, when all the (supposed) wackiness of two men calling themselves "Earnest" finally starts to make sense and several coincidences pay off. Overall, however, this dismal reworking of a hilarious play has neither wit nor humour.
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VINE VOICEon 17 October 2005
For me "The Importance of Being Earnest" is properly one of the greatest plays ever written. The comedy is a full blown satire of Victorian society. Ocar Wilde had the very great pleasure of flattering and making fun of the audience while being applauded for doing so. So the question is not whether the play is excellent but whether this movie is.
And I have no doubts in stating yes it is.
The cast, in particular, is inspired. Rupert Everett and Dame Jude Dench are clearly born to deliver this kind of aristocratic banter. Judi Dench - one of my favorite or better just my favorite actress - as Lady Bracknell is the real star, and when she enters a scene, she steals it. I just loved every second of the audience Lady Bracknell gave to the "first fake Ernest". Hillarious!
All in all we enjoyed every minute of the movie and can greatly recommend it. 5 stars!!!!
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on 14 February 2016
Judi Dench stars at being judi drench, yet again ! (YAWN !).... and the rest of the cast are as equally flaccid and dull. Stick with the inspired Dame Edith Evans et al film version. This lot here deserve a right good handbaging ! 👜
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