Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth, Kimberly Nixon, Katherine Parkinson, Charlotte Riley
Mr. Whittaker: Smile Marion.
Marion: I don’t feel like smiling.
Mr. Whittaker: You’re English darling, fake it.
A young Englishman, John (Barnes), returns home with his new wife, a glamorous American racecar driver, Larita (Biel). John’s mother doesn’t approve of Larita, of course, but his depressed father thinks she’s a breath of fresh air into their stuffy British home.
Ya know, I’m not even sure what year this movie takes place in (the 1940s maybe?), but I guess it doesn’t really matter. It’s all about mentalities. There’s the traditional British culture at odds with a more modern, American approach to life and relationships. There’s John and Larita who married in a whirlwind of romance, and then there’s John’s sisters who are just hoping to land a rich husband some day that they’ll at least be able to tolerate. That’s the kind of marriage John’s mother was planning for him as well. A marriage that would gain the financially struggling family some new land.
I’m not sure this movie has much new to say on the subject really, and even if it did, I’m not sure I’d have any real interest in it anyway. It’s just not a time period that keeps my attention very well.
Kristin Scott Thomas and Colin Firth are usually dependable, and they’re good here as well, even if their roles aren’t that interesting. The younger folks don’t bring as much life to their characters though, other than maybe Nixon and Riley as Hilda and Sarah, respectively. As far as Biel goes…how should I put this…um…well…she’s not that good. She’s not horrible, and she does exude a certain energy at times, but some of her acting choices are a little odd and some of her line readings are sort of confusing. No matter, she looks good in a tight dress, so here’s another dump truck load of scripts for you, Ms. Biel!
In the end, I wasn’t real sure where this movie landed on the whole modern vs. traditional relationships question, and I wasn’t interested enough to care. It squeezes a few laughs out here and there, but nothing memorable. And I gotta say, the odd choice to take modern songs and make versions of them that sound like old music was quite distracting. It just added to the confusing feel of the movie. None of it seemed authentic or serious, which undermined the more serious aspects of the story.
Lastly, I got the impression that part of the controversy of their relationship was that John was so much younger than Larita. Yet, the actor who plays John is actually a year older than Biel. What up wit dat?
Apparently women can do things that men can do, like racecar driving! Who knew??
10 – 4 for a boring story and boring characters – .6 for some acting struggles = 5.4