Ben Barnes, Jessica Biel, Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas
Directed by Stephen Elliott
When a newly married couple go to stay at the husband’s family country estate in England, the impending feud between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law is obvious from the start.
As Mrs. Whittaker (Thomas) learns that her son, John (Barnes), has abruptly married an American during his travels, she immediately finds reason to dislike her. John was promised to a neighbor’s daughter that would connect the two families into one large estate. John is young and foolishly in love, but he is blind to his wife’s discontent living in the country. Larita (Biel) is a city girl with a need for a faster paced life racing cars. Larita’s only other ally is the estranged father of John, Mr. Whittaker (Firth).
Mrs. Whittaker and Larita go head-to-head, trying to show each other who is the alpha in this country home. John’s two younger sister’s don’t help Larita’s cause when she accidentally causes embarrassment and harm to the two. John’s youngest sister contacts a relative in New York and digs up Larita’s dirty past for all to hear.
“Easy Virtue” is a surprisingly enjoyable film. The mother-in-law hates daughter-in-law was predictable but the characters helped move the story along at an easy-going pace. While Mrs. Whittaker had wished for her son to marry the neighbor’s daughter, she doesn’t force them uncomfortably together as other predictable movies do. John and the neighbor’s daughter get along fine enough but there is no blossoming romance to steal the spotlight. Being the new person in the house brings attention to Larita. She wishes that everyone will accept her since she grew up in a different lifestyle. Her fair treatment of the household staff holds her in favor over the residents themselves, who have their rules they stick to.
As a period piece, “Easy Virtue” should not scare away viewers. It’s not a depressing drama nor will it bore you with subtle history lessons. There’s humor and not an overly-sickening romance like “Pride & Prejudice” to scare the male viewers away. It’s also one of the better roles Jessica Biel has portrayed. So if you’re looking for a movie that won’t puzzle your mind with a confusing story line and are looking for something different to watch, “Easy Virtue” may be the movie you should try.