Keeping Mum

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BOGEY MAN Swayze tries to pitch woo.
BOGEY MAN Swayze tries to pitch woo.

Time Out says

Perhaps the most lighthearted dark comedy you’ll ever see, writer-director Niall Johnson’s third feature is decidedly quirky and veddy British. During the ’60s-set prologue, a comely pregnant blond (Emilia Fox) is arrested for having two dismembered bodies in her massive traveling trunk. Cut to modern times as a dysfunctional small-town family consisting of a nebbishy vicar (Atkinson), his frustrated wife (Thomas), their sex-crazed daughter (Tamsin Egerton) and their wimpy son (Toby Parkes) greets the new housekeeper (Smith), a seemingly sweet old lady with a familiar-looking trunk in tow. What follows is a delightful mix of screwball and Restoration comedy, peppered with puns, sex and a slew of stiffs.

Atkinson and Smith could have easily hammed up their broad characters, yet they are beautifully restrained. Not so Patrick Swayze, although he clearly relishes playing Thomas’s sleazy Yankee would-be lover. As the neglected wife, Thomas is luminous and provides the movie with an emotional core. When she inevitably discovers Smith’s true identity, the look of joy, anger and sadness on her face is both touching and funny. While the film goes on a mite too long and the ending is shamelessly gimmicky, the first 85 minutes are a killer of a good time.—Raven Snook

(Opens Fri; see Now Playing for venues.)

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