The Importance Of Being Earnest

Rated 3.0

Director Oliver Parker adapts Oscar Wilde’s immortal comedy of romantic ups and downs, with Rupert Everett, Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth and Frances O’Connor as the bantering, bickering quartet of lovers and Judi Dench as the indomitable battle-ax Lady Bracknell. As adapter, Parker doesn’t see that the play is perfect as it is; his many changes and additions are tin-eared and ill-advised—for example, he has one young lady getting her loved-one’s name tattooed on her fanny and grim, humorless old Lady B. bursting into gales of laughter at the end. Meanwhile, as director he overdoes the decadent Victorian languor. But what the hell, Wilde himself probably wouldn’t take the play all that seriously, and enough of the Master’s voice survives. Still, with this cast it should have been a lot better.