Monday, March 5, 2007

What Would Oscar Do?

I believe he would howl with outrage when he saw this cinematic abomination that dares call itself The Importance of Being Earnest. Well, maybe not howl--it's hard to imagine the Oscar stooping to such vulgar histrionics. But certainly he would have raised one eyebrow and then uttered a cutting bon-mot that would have proven once and for all--don't mess with the master.

But mess with the master, they did and with predicable results. The movie is a complete and utter bomb, which takes a hatchet job to Oscar Wilde's clever dialogue--and let's face it--the play is all about the witty bon mots. Sure, the movie has good costuming and very well done scenery--but all of that merely serves to detract from the elegance of Wilde's acid wit. Innuendo flashbacks and tattoo parlors do not serve to further the ideas of the play at all, for the play is not about reality, it's about artificially. It's a drawing room farce, perhaps the drawing room farce, and removing it from the drawing room was a grave mistake. The play's dialouge was already rarified; cutting and pasting mere served to suck its archness right out of it. I never thought it would be possible for some of Wilde's most exquisite lines to fall flat, but oh they did, oh yes they did.

It is to weep.

The movie's excruciations were not the fault of the actors, troopers all. Rupert Everett made an excellent Algy, Colin Firth was appropriately stodgy at Jack, and Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell--what other modern actress could embody the role with such bombastic dignity? I lay the fault directly at the feet of director Oliver Parker, who not only had the effrontery to butcher Wilde's masterpiece, but also claim screenplay credit. Go back to television acting, Sieur Parker, from whence you came, and leave the direction to those who know how.

"The unspeakable directed by the inedible." The Alta Califa.

"An epigram is like a delicate exotic fruit. Touch it and the bloom is gone." The Angeles Angel.

"After watching this horror, I fear my hair has gone quite gold with grief." Colonel Azul Pescado, Film Critic, The Warlord's Wear Daily.

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