London high society at the turn of the 19th century gets a light, comic spanking is this adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s 1895 play. The film’s first act feels as stiff and stuffy as a corporate board meeting. But gradually, Wilde’s lacerating sense of humor eats through all the starch; the actors take muscular command of their characters; the dialogue develops an urgent momentum as quips are exchanged like gunfire, and the thin plot twists into devilish knots. Rupert Everett is the scene stealer here in the role of Wilde’s alter-ego; he proves that his comic triumph in My Best Friend’s Wedding was no fluke. And all the other performances—from Cate Blanchett, Minnie Driver, Julianne Moore, John Wood and Peter Vaughan—are first rate.