Writer: Oliver Parker (Screenplay) Oscar Wilde (Play)
Starring: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Frances O’Connor, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Anna Massey
Plot: In 1890s London, two friends use the same pseudonym (“Ernest”) for their on-the-sly activities. Hilarity ensues.
Tagline – Everybody Loves Ernest… But Nobody’s Quite Sure Who He Really Is.
Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Fun Period Piece
Story: The Importance of Being Earnest starts as two high society men Algy (Everett) and Jack (Firth) are using status to create reputations, Jack is his name in the country with his niece Cecily (Witherspoon), while in the city he is Earnest, where he is in love with Gwendolen (O’Connor), despite not having approval from Lady Bracknell (Dench).
When Algy learns the location of Jack’s country residence, he adopts the Earnest persona to try and win the heart of Cecily, putting Jack in the difficult spot as he continues to court Gwendolen, who believes he is Earnest.
Thoughts on The Importance of Being Earnest
Characters – Algy has always lived in the big city, he has used his status to keep on top of the world, with his best friend, they look to get what they want in life, with his latest target being Cecily, Jack’s niece, he uses the Earnest name to win her heart despite the clash with Jack. Jack is from the country, only in the big city he is Earnest a man with a massive reputation and wanting to marry Gwendolen, needing to prove he is worthy of marrying her. Gwendolen is the woman Jack wants to marry, she has been flirting with each Jack, she will want to marry him, getting caught in the middle of the truth with Cecily. Cecily is the niece of Jack’s she has been given the best education possible, she dreams of love and when Algy appears, the two falls for each other, she isn’t impressed with the truth about the names though. Lady Bracknell will want to pick the best suitor for Gwendolen, which sees her going against letting Jack near her, he will give him a chance to prove himself though.
Performances – We have a great cast here, with Rupert Everett and Colin Firth having great chemistry for laughs through the film, while Frances O’Connor and Reese Witherspoon both work very well when they need to work together, Judi Dench is also a joy to watch in the film.
Story – The story here follows two men that fake their own identities to win the hearts of high society women, they work against each other by using the same identity and must prove they are worthy of loving the women. This is a story about using status to get what people want in life, it shows how both men walk over people in life and how the women are not impressed to learn the truth. This does have a nice flow to the story and shows that people will do anything to get what they want in life, it shows how the high society would always be judging people in life too.
Comedy/Romance – The comedy in the film comes from each character trying to hide the truth about themselves away from the others, with the romance being about how the men want to win the hearts of the women even if they must fake their names.
Settings – The film puts us squarely in the middle of the high society life that the characters would be coming from, it shows how they would have more money than sense.
Scene of the Movie – Jack and Algy trying to fix things.
Final Thoughts – This is a fun period piece comedy with excellent performances throughout.