Wednesday, February 17, 2010

#158: The Importance of Being Earnest

(Anthony Asquith, 1952)

Oscar Wilde is funny beyond the limits of his social world's boundaries, and his most famous play is transformed here into the perfect adaptation. Asquith's film doesn't feel too stagey or overplayed, like so many stage-to-screen adaptations, and the movie is as light and sophisticated as a glass of champagne. It's not surprising that fifteen years earlier Asquith had made an equally successful adaptation of Shaw's Pygmalion, also a Criterion film.

There isn't much to say about The Importance of Being Earnest, other than that if you aren't put off by the decorum of the time, I can't possibly imagine not enjoying this film. All the performances are excellent, and at a brief 90 minutes the film feels like it's over before you have a chance to reflect. A lovely way to pass the time.

The movie also has my new favorite quote. After offering to do a favor for his friend in order to secure a dinner invitation, to which his friend agrees, Algernon replies "You must be serious about it. I hate people who are not serious about meals." Indeed.

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