Movie Review: Easy Virtue

It was hubby’s birthday yesterday and to celebrate we drove to Sydney to have dinner and watch a movie at Govinda’s in Darlinghurst. It’s a funky little place with a vegetarian buffet and a cosy cinema upstairs that, instead of traditional cinema seating, has cushions and couchlike things on the ground. It’s a really nice night out – delicious food and such a comfy movie theatre (with hardly anyone there!)

Anyway, the movie was called ‘Easy Virtue’. I wasn’t really fussed when I booked us in. I thought, ‘I’ll see what movie is on Thursday night, and if it isn’t too objectionable (ie T4 or Transformers or something stupid like that), we’ll go on Thursday because that’s his birthday’. So I read the synopsis and thought it didn’t sound too bad. The good points as far as I could tell at that stage were: the central characters were women; it was English (as opposed to American); Kristin Scott Thomas was in it and I think she’s fab.

The movie wasn’t great. It wasn’t dreadful,  but a feminist reading of it left me sighing in disappointment. The main character, Larita, played by Jessica Biel, was an American race-car driver living in Paris when she met, fell in love with and married the son of Kristen Scott Thomas, who was off galivanting in Europe when he should have been at home helping his mum manage their property. It is set in the 1930s. Anyway, the prodigal (and only) son returns home with his new bride and, would you believe it, Larita and Kristen Scott Thomas don’t get on. So we have the cliched mother-in-law vs daughter-in-law feud compounded by the fact that Larita represents hedonistic American values compared to English values steeped in tradition, snobbery and modesty. Larita causes a stir in the town and finds it all too hard to bear and begs whatshisname (the son) to go to London with her to live. Kristen Scott Thomas also has 2 daughters living at home and her husband is played by Colin Firth. Their marriage is empty and they live their lives dodging questions about Colin Firth’s disappearance after WWI when he cavorted around French sleeping with prostitutes until his wife came after him and ordered him home.

Anyway, I was happy initially to be going to see a movie where the central characters were women – yay. Most movies that have main characters as women are derided as ‘ chick flicks’ and ‘serious’, mainstream films are too often littered with male main characters and peripheral women. On reflection of  ‘Easy virtue’, however, I have no alternative but to suspect the director/producer hates women. Kristen Scott Thomas and her daughters were horrible characters. They despised Larita because she was beautiful and modern and rallied against her because they were jealous of her stealing whatshisname. Larita, who the audience were clearly supposed to sympathise with, despised all the women in the family and allied herself with Colin Firth and the male butler. She identified with men by being a racing car driver and loving engines. The sisters were single and desperate while Larita was brazen, and completely objectified by both male and female characters for her beauty.

And for some reason it seemed like we were supposed to like Colin Firth more than Kristen Scott Thomas. Colin Firth had lost his identity and pride in the war and seemed to not be engaged in living anymore. Ah, poor Colin Firth….go around France cavorting with prositutes and ignore your family with no intention to come home, we’ll forgive you. We’ll demonise your stupid jealous wife instead.

And the feud between the women was just so pathetic. It’d be nice to see some more movies with central female characters who like each other. ‘Women hating women’ movies are just tiresome.

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