Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Keeping Mum

Here’s a kind of movie I haven't seen for a while – a black comedy version of a Mary Poppins story. A somewhat dysfunctional vicar’s family is given a dose of Grace (the character’s name) in a rather unusual form. They pretend to play up the thriller dynamic just enough not to take away from the overall light comic tone. In fact, it could almost work as a family picture for older kids, if it weren’t for some language issues and double entendres that the brighter kids might not miss. Oh, and some nudity. OK – maybe not really a family movie, but at least you probably wouldn’t be embarrassed watching it with friends.

The character of the parents is developed enough to give the story some substance. They are also well-acted by Kristin Scott Thomas and Rowan Atkinson. Thomas really does a great job with her character’s ambivalence and Atkinson mostly restrains his Mr. Bean side in order to play the nice but absent-minded vicar. The kids’ characters are left pretty shallow, which is unfortunate. There probably would have been enough time in the movie to make their stories a little more plausible and less cliché, but they let the opportunity pass by.

As far as the other roles, Maggie Smith is, of course, wonderful, and Swayze is at least in the right kind of role.

The quality of the changes that turn the family around are somewhat questionable, but that’s hard to criticize given that the new housekeeper is hardly an example of perfection. Metaphorically, you could say that it makes the point that niceness doesn't always work and sometimes you have to put something to death to bring some real change. Still, especially for Grace’s intervention in the boy’s problems, one might have hoped for something a little more creative. With plot as with character development, the children just didn’t seem like they were given the attention that the parents’ plot was given.

This movie was not all that widely distributed, and I could barely get a copy in St. Stephen, but it was definitely worth watching. A little better writing for the children’s roles and it could have been wonderful. ***

1 comment:

  1. Just to let you know that I agree completely with your post on this. Two mugs up, though not a classic.