Saturday, 18 April 2009

Keeping Mum

2005 - Dir: Niall Johnson

Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 25th April, 2009
Adapted seamlessly from its original American setting by writer/director Niall Johnson (novelist Richard Russo penned the initial script), Keeping Mum manages to be both reassuringly familiar and surprisingly fresh. "Waking Ned" meets "Kind Hearts and Coronets". Apart from the witty script, the secret to its success lies in its offbeat casting. Scott Thomas loosens her stiff upper lip and clearly relishes playing Gloria Goodfellow, a wife and mother who's thinking about playing around with a sleazy golf instructor (Patrick Swayze) and abandoning her inert husband Walter (Rowan Atkinson), the vicar of Little Wallop (don't worry, nothing else is quite so twee). If she's the main draw, there's also a comedy masterclass to behold from Maggie Smith. The redoubtable screen veteran combines the sweetness of a doting grandmother with looks that kill and hilariously bloodthirsty solutions to everyday problems such as school bullies and yappy dogs. Mainstream British comedies are notoriously difficult to get right - too often they're simply poor copies of Hollywood pap - which is why Keeping Mum really is something to shout about.
"There is a British tradition of darkness in comedy which we haven’t seen for some time and in many ways the pleasantness and the appealing nature of the characters when it turns out that they are concealing dark secrets, is in many ways even more shocking. What drew me to the script was that it had a great tone to it. It was very gentle and definitely comic; but comedy with a much greater subtlety than I am normally associated with. Walter is a very three-dimensional character, and the script has just got a lovely, slightly dark tone to it." Rowan Atkinson

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