Based off a Noel Coward play from 1924, “Easy Virtue” is a romantic comedy period film served up in contemporary flair and a modern soundtrack in 1920’s disguise. It’s an odd one. The composer, Marius De Vries brings a wee bit of “Moulin Rouge!” with him to the score. The result is perhaps jarring at times, but certainly more interesting than most.
Director Stephan Elliot (“Eye of the Beholder”) noted, “I have never done this before; I am used to scoring a film, and when something sad happens you put some sad music on, for a happy scene you put happy music on….”
(Left: Jessica Biel and Colin Firth in “Easy Virtue,” courtesy of Sony Picture Classics).
BORING. His awareness of that and desire to try something different here is quite welcome, so whether it succeeds every scene or not, it’s still something of triumph. There’s even more musical tinkering going on beyond all that and the gramophone audio. Several of the cast perform the vocals in more than one tune. Jessica Biel sings the main title track “Mad About the Boy,” and co-star Ben Barnes breaks into song every chance he gets. It’s quite English.
Maybe I’m a strange sucker for period pieces but I wasn’t the only guy my age chuckling a bit in that screening. Gratuitous use of terms like “codswallop” may have helped. There are some great visuals and a preoccupation with turning every reflective surface from billiard balls to Colin Firth’s sunglasses into hot shots that are as uncharacteristic for a period piece as the soundtrack is. And one more thing about that… well here’s a hint.
“Easy Virtue” Opens May 22nd, from Sony Pictures Classics. My Mom is definitely going to see it.