Dir: Eric Styles. UK. 2000. 89 mins.
Prod Co: Overseas Filmroup/Midsummer Films. UK dist: Momentum Pictures. Int'l sales: Overseas Filmgroup. Prod: Chris Milburn. Assoc prods/scr: Paul Rattigan and Michael Walker from the play by Noel Coward. DoP: Jimmy Dibling. Prod des: Humphrey Jaeger. Eds: Caroline Limmer, Ian Seymour. Mus: John Derney. Main cast: Julie Andrews, Jeanne Tripplehorn, William Baldwin, Colin Firth, Stephen Fry, Sophie Thompson.
A warm welcome for the big screen return of Julie Andrews is unlikely to translate into significant audience goodwill towards the creaky, time warp attractions of this 1950s Noel Coward adaptation. A flimsy romp through the hypocrisies of the post-War English class system, the basic material is badly dated and the workmanlike handling merely emphasises its plodding theatricality. UK distributor Momentum Pictures faces an uphill struggle to prevent this becoming another swift casualty of a merciless British market when it is released on June 23.
Displaying a crisp comic talent, the ageless Andrews is every inch the star of the show as Felicity, the Countess Of Marshwood. Distressed by the news that her son is intent on an entirely unsuitable marriage to American movie queen Miranda Frayle (Tripplehorn), she prepares to welcome the couple to the family's vast estate in the English countryside. Matters are complicated by the sudden revelation that her loyal maid Moxie (Thompson) just happens to be Miranda's long lost sister. The plot thickens again with the arrival of Miranda's former lover Don Lucas (Baldwin), a boozy Hollywood star who still carries a torch.
Beginning with a jaunty flourish and an energetic montage covering the Marshwood-Frayle romance, this soon settles into a much more mundane approach to the plot's mechanics and comic set pieces that makes little effort to render the material more accessible to a modern audience. Andrews may have the flair and experience to rise above it all but others are not so lucky with Fry offering an over familiar reading of the Cockney butler and Firth left simpering on the sidelines as the campy, mischievous nephew.