The Importance of Being Earnest

You might suppose that Oscar Wilde's theatrical evergreen is indestructible. But that would be to reckon without the intervention of 'writer'/director Parker, who really makes a pig's ear of this silk purse. Witherspoon and O'Connor are fine as Cecily and Gwendolen. Firth makes a dour Jack, Everett is Algy to the manner born, and Judi Dench's Lady Bracknell is a no-brainer. But all the actors are up against Parker's mortal dread of being boring. In this respect, the film goes to the opposite extreme of Anthony Asquith's static 1952 version. Parker encourages everyone to skate across the dialogue as if it were a frozen lake in thaw. The briefest badinage is likely to incur half-a-dozen scene changes, each delivered with an unerring eye for the ugliest composition, a thudding cut, a forced bit of business here, an unwelcome innovation there. (A 'director's cut' runs at 101 min.) TCh.

Release details

Duration: 98 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Oliver Parker
Screenwriter: Oliver Parker
Cast: Reese Witherspoon
Rupert Everett
Frances O'Connor
Patrick Godfrey
Anna Massey
Charles Kay
Judi Dench
Edward Fox
Colin Firth
Tom Wilkinson
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