The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Classic Pictures - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 96 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English/German/Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish
Starring: Jessica Biel, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth, Ben Barnes, Kris Marshall, Kimberly Nixon
Directed by:Stephan Elliott
Music by: Marius De Vries
Written by: Stephan Elliott & Sheridan Jobbins based upon the play by Noel Coward
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 15, 2009
When British playboy John brings his new wife Larita - a race car-driving feminist from Detroit - home to meet the family at their country estate, pretty much everyone's expectations are disappointed. His snooty mother is offended by Larita's carefree American ways, while Larita does everything she can to get her mother-in-law to loosen up, which only annoys her even more. John's sisters have diametrically opposed feelings about their new sister-in-law, but his father is intrigued to have finally found another who sees through the family's façade - and takes great perverse pleasure in watching his wife meet her match.
The description above aptly describes this thoroughly entertaining and off beat comedy. Based on the play of the same name by Noel Coward this is the second time it has been translated to film. The first time was in 1928 (silent) by the great Alfred Hitchcock. Its theme is an age old one and revolves around a young well to do Englishman marrying outside of his class and bringing his bride, Larita (Biel), home to meet his family and disapproving mother in law. John Whitaker (Barnes) sends word that he is coming home and that he has recently taken a bride. Much to the chagrin of his mother, Veronica, (Thomas) John's new bride is an American. Add to that her penchant for fast cars, motorcycles, cigarettes and lack of inhibition and she is sure to be nothing more than a blond haired floozy that will ruin John's life. It becomes clear from the outset that Veronica had other plans in mind for who John would marry, namely Sarah (Riley) his childhood sweetheart. By hook or by crook she isn't going to give Larita a warm Whitaker family welcome. After their arrival Larita meets the rest of her new in laws, father in law Jim (Firth), and two sisters in law, Marion (Parkinson) and Hilda (Nixon). She quickly sizes up this pretty dysfunctional family. Jim, a war veteran, has disconnected altogether and seems to feel no emotional attachment to his wife or interest in the family's affairs. Marion is a budding stage actress, and spurned lover who is fond of the drink. Hilda is attractive and seeks the attention of family friend and neighbor Phillip Hurst (Brassington) but is unable to tickle his fancy. Larita and Veronica quickly come to realize that neither one is willing to give in to the other which touches off a series of one-upmanship style encounters. Larita's candor quickly makes her an ally to Jim who has grown tired of the stuffy, esoteric life he shares with Veronica. Larita makes attempts to fit in but adjusting to this seemingly aristocratic lifestyle goes against her grain. She also has to contend with events from her past that have yet to come to light. Dealing with her new family while trying to get to know her young and unassuming husband results in both social and cultural altercations that prove to be lots of laughs.
I really enjoyed this film's subtle yet edgy style of humor. It can be found both in direct and indirect moments that are fueled by the wonderful performances by the cast. Kristin Scott Thomas is of course brilliant as the supremely disapproving mother in law who is frustrated by her unhappy marriage, clingy daughters and the dwindling hopes of keeping everything together. Both Parkinson and Nixon had they moments in the sun and nailed them (I loved the Can Can!). The story is more than just a comedy and has a serious side which helps give it balance. I am a Jessica Biel fan and really appreciated her performance from both perspectives. There is a scene involving Larita and Veronica's pet Chihuahua that reminded me very much of Meet the parents. Conversely the heightened tension/drama in the finale during the tango dance sequence was poignant and perfectly enacted. Predominantly the mood remains light with some funny moments involving the Whitaker family butler, an embarrassing outdoor rendezvous, and a rather interesting take on a fox hunt. Writer/Director Stephan Elliott's modern adaptation of this Noel Coward production works on several levels and proved to be quite entertaining.
The rating is for sexual content, brief partial nudity and smoking throughout.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Easy virtue comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Classic Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.2 mbps.
This video presentation offered pristine image quality with plenty of high level detail and crisp resolution. Colors aren't overly bright and the majority of the film maintains a bit of a dreary aesthetic that suits the tone of the source material. The period clothing worn by the members of the cast were made up of variety of colors that looked vivid and departed nicely from the rest of the film's appearance. Fleshtones were tonally sullen with warm natural highlights that allowed them to retain lifelike quality. Blacks were punchy and shadow delineation was excellent. Contrast was stable and dynamic without overstatement which produced crisp whites and energetic primary colors. This disc represents another solid video encoding from Sony that looked great.
The lossless Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was solid as well. Dynamics were defining without being strident or edgy. Dialogue was rendered with deep clarity and tonal character that had above average room penetration. The front soundstage was diffused with excellent separation and well articulated detail. The presentation didn't offer much in the way of discrete surround sound however spatial dimension was occasionally detectable as environmental sounds and front channel extension through the rear channels opened up the sound field. Bass response wasn't room filling but it appropriately supported the source elements and provided a tight, occasionally tactile low end.
- Commentary with director Stephan Elliott and writer Sheridan Jobbins
- 4 deleted scenes
- Blooper reel - 8 minutes
- New York premiere - 6 minute documentary
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- (HD) BD Previews (5)
- It might get loud
- Every little step
- Whatever works
- Married life
- The Jane Austen Book Club
- BD-Live enabled
Easy virtue is a cleverly executed adaptation that has a subtly humorous side that plays well against its smaller but pertinent serious one. Its fallible and well drawn characters provide an often true yet satirical attraction that is made all the better by the performances of the cast. This high definition offering from Sony looks beautiful on Blu-ray disc. The bonus features are limited but include a great commentary track by the director Stephan Elliott and writer Sheridan Jobbins. I really enjoyed it and if this style of humor is to your liking I recommend that you give it a spin.
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