Sunday, April 15, 2007

Keeping Mum

2005, UK, directed by Niall Johnson

Rating: **

Keeping Mum would like to be thought of in the same breath as august British films like The Ladykillers (before the Coen brothers got their hands on it) and Kind Hearts and Coronets, but it has two fatal weaknesses: a ploddingly obvious script, filled with repetitive double entendres, and soporific pacing in the first hour, which renders the first hour rather a chore. Though there are other high-profile names on the poster - Rowan Atkinson and Kristin Scott-Thomas - the film is rendered bearable only by Maggie Smith, who, even in material like this, is nuanced and witty (Patrick Swayze, by contrast, can't rise above a dreadful part). Though the film fancies itself a black comedy in the Ealing mode, it persistently targets the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless, which ultimately leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States