Jessica Biel Ruins Everything

Easy Virtue and the Collapse of American Diplomacy



It doesn't matter how many suggestive photo shoots Jessica Biel does, she can't quite shake that sanctimonious, goody two-shoes quality—the stink of 7th Heaven, it don't wear off. Her more grating qualities, however, are unintentionally well harnessed in the jazz-era period piece Easy Virtue, in which she plays the high-spirited American wife of a slumming young Englishman whose family is horrified by his brassy new bride. The setup, then: Stodgily conservative "traditional" values turned upside-down by the arrival of an ambassador from a more liberated and self-actualized culture (i.e., a racecar-driving American chick).

In a post-Bush era, it's exceedingly embarrassing to run across a film that so blithely embraces the notion that America is a nation of headstrong progress and iconoclastic disregard for convention. You can slap on all the jazzy songs and oh-no-she-didn't culture clashes you want—and director Stephan Elliott does just that—but the fundamental premise irks. As Biel's mother-in-law, the fantastic Kristin Scott Thomas is slumming it—and if I had to choose between the culture defended by Thomas and the one that Biel so recklessly reps? No contest.

Is there a bright side? Okay, well... Colin Firth, who plays Biel's father-in-law. I trust the ladies in the house will understand when I concede that Firth's forehead, ever brooding, is the one highlight Easy Virtue offers.

Related Film

Easy Virtue

Director: Stephan Elliott

Writer: Noel Coward

Producer: Joseph Abrams

Cast: Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Colin Firth, Kimberley Nixon, Katherine Parkinson, Kris Marshall, Christian Brassington, Charlotte Riley and Jim McManus


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