The Importance of Being Earnest
(directed by Oliver Parker, play by Oscar Wilde; 2002)

This new version of The Importance of Being Earnest adroitly treads the tightrope of innovation vs familiarity: it's sufficiently different from the Oscar Wilde play that audience members familiar with the original won't fall asleep, yet it doesn't abandon the essentials of the plot nor pervert the characters beyond recognition.

Judi Dench seems born to play Lady Bracknell and, unsurprisingly, she carries off the role perfectly, while slightly surprisingly (to me at least), Reese Witherspoon is simply charming as Cecily. Rounding out the cast, Colin Firth (Jack), Rupert Everett (Algy) and Anna Massey (Miss Prism) are all highly watchable.

With so many film and television adaptations of the play to choose amongst, one could ask why bother to make (or watch) another one -- but with a solid cast, why ever not?

28 December 2003