The Importance of Being Earnest


Rupert Everett as Algy
Colin Firth as Jack
Frances O’Connor as Gwendolyn
Reese Witherspoon as Cecily
Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell
Tom Wilkinson as Dr. Chasuble
Anna Massey as Miss Prism
Edward Fox as Lane
Patrick Godfrey as Merriman
Charles Kay as Gribsby

Special Features:
Audio Commentary With Director Oliver Parker
The Making of The Importance Of Being Earnest
Behind-The-Scenes Featurette

Other Info:
English and French Languages
Widescreen (2.35:1) – Enhanced For 16×9 Televisions
Running Time: 94 Mins.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound

This film is based on the play by Oscar Wilde.

Around the turn of the century, Jack is a nobleman from the English countryside. He lives in a large estate with his young ward Cecily. Every once in a while he likes to go to the city to carouse. To get away from his responsibilities, he tells everyone that he’s going to take care of his irresponsible brother Earnest. When Jack arrives in the city, he assumes the identity of Earnest.

Jack likes to hang out with his friend Algy in the city (who doesn’t know about his dual identity). However, he even more enjoys spending time with Algy’s cousin Gwendolyn. The two have a secret infatuation with each other, much to the disapproval of Algy’s aunt, Lady Bracknell. When Jack confesses his love for Gwendolyn and proposes to her, she reveals that she primarily loves him because his name is Earnest. In a panic, Jack continues his ruse as Earnest.

Meanwhile, Algy is infatuated with Jack’s ward Cecily. Jack is intensely protective of her and won’t let Algy near her. When Algy discovers Jack’s Earnest scam, he comes up with a plan. He shows up at Jack’s country estate and introduces himself to Cecily as the reckless brother Earnest. Of course Jack is flabbergasted when he returns, and even more so when he finds out that Algy has proposed to Cecily. The elaborate lies begin to fall to pieces when Cecily and Gwendolyn meet each other and find out the truth. Can Jack and Algy save their romances?

“The Importance Of Being Earnest” is rated PG.

The Movie:
I’m generally not entertained by a movie unless there’s an explosion in it. As you can guess, Earnest has no explosions. However, I still found this film amusing. While it’s not a movie that I would rush out and see in the theater or buy on DVD, I thought it was enjoyable. I was not familiar with the play, so I had no preconceived notions about the story.

I found the beginning rather hard to understand. There were so many characters introduced and so many interweaving sub-plots that I was lost at first. However, once the story got rolling, I picked up on everything and got into the humor of the situation. The dialogue is first rate with some really funny lines.

The cast is first rate as well. Colin Firth leads the cast well as Jack. Rupert Everett is a good match with him. Frances O’Connor handles the humor well and Reese Witherspoon does a pretty convincing English accent. Judy Dench adds a nice touch of class to the story which helps round out the class.

The Extras:
A movie like this doesn’t really lend itself to extras, but at least you get the standard offerings. The “Making of” video is an extremely short 7 minutes. The cast is interviewed and everyone gives their thoughts on making a movie of an Oscar Wilde play.

The “Behind the Scenes” featurette consists of nothing more than someone standing behind the crew videotaping as scenes are acted out. It’s interesting for film enthusiasts, but probably pretty boring to general audiences. I personally liked getting a look at how the cast behaved between takes. A commentary by director Oliver Parker is also offered on the DVD.

The Bottom Line:
The Importance Of Being Earnest is not a film I’d normally go see, but it was still enjoyable. It would make a decent renter.