The Importance of Being Earnest
Puja Miri Yajnik
‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is a 2002 British-American romantic comedy, based on Oscar Wide’s play that was first staged in 1895 in London’s St James Theatre. The film stars Rupert Everett, Judi Dench, Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Frances O’Connor and others. It is directed by Oliver Parker and produced by Barnaby Thompson, David Brown and Uri Frutchmann. The film has excellent music by Charlie Mole.
The story centres around two friends in Victorian London. Jack Worthing is in love with Gwendolen and wishes very much to marry her. The problem he faces is persuading her mother, who doesn’t approve. Meanwhile, his friend, Algernon, aims to marry his rich ward, Cecily. Both young men use the pseudo-name ‘Earnest’ for hilarious reasons, leading to chaotic moments and stranger and stranger events. This is one of the finest plays by Oscar Wilde and definitely one of the most witty. The interactions between the two men fighting for the name ‘Earnest’ keep the audience in splits. The obsession with the name ‘Earnest’ is fascinating and quite bizarre. Then appears a senile nursemaid with the story of a handbag.
I thought the film was very well-done. It has excellent performances by all the artists: Colin Firth as he brings the confused, unsure of himself, but determined suitor to life; Witherspoon as the spoiled, high society, Victorian young lady, constantly daydreaming and imagining interactions with Earnest; Everett as the charming, slightly notorious gentleman is audacious but somehow still loveable; O’Connor as the ostensibly prim girl trying to somehow get her way; and Judi Dench as she presents the old world Victorian matriarch to us.
A great watch for when you are in the mood for a classical comedy with terrific conversations, crazy capers and an astonishing and hilarious climax. The costumes and locations are great and will appeal to all lovers of period films. You will feel as though you are walking into the Victorian world. It did remind me vaguely of a couple of Shakespeare’s plays involving the theme of mistaken identity, inevitably sending the audience into peels of laughter. The characters in ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ are well-etched and each completely eccentric, preoccupied with trying to get their way, somehow. I was fascinated with the fascination with ‘Earnest’.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.