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The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)



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The Importance of Being Earnest is one of my favorite stage plays -- a hilarious farce of mistaken identity by Oscar Wilde. It's so well written that it's difficult to do a faithful version badly, although obviously some productions are better than others and the value of great acting cannot be underestimated.

This 2002 version is pretty good, but it's uneven. Ironically, the weakest aspect of this adaptation is the most cinematic: periodically, there are cuts to scenes the characters are imagining, such as when the delightfully airheaded Cecily visualizes her literal knight in shining armor. It's a neat idea, but it doesn't quite work.

The performances, however, make it shine. Rupert Everett and Colin Firth, playing the two leads, work well together as two young men wholly devoted to the pursuit of nothing, one more so than the other. But it's Judi Dench, impeccable as the no-nonsense Lady Bracknell, who steals the show. As familiar as I am with the play's innumerable lines of quotable dialogue, I still found myself laughing, aloud and often.

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