Friends Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff both lead double lives: Jack pretends to be a man named Ernest while he is in town, but in the country, he goes by his real name, Jack Worthing, and takes care of his eighteen year old ward, Cecily Cardew, and pretends to worry about his brother, Ernest, in London. Algernon/Algy pretends that he has to visit a dying friend in order to get out of plans with his aunt, Lady Bracknell. Jack proposes to Lady Bracknell's daughter, Gwendolen Fairfax, who can only be in love a man named Ernest. Algy, after hearing about Cecily, is determined to meet her and when he does, pretends to be Jack's brother, Ernest, and gains her affection.
There are some familiar faces in The Importance of Being Earnest that you may recognize from other period dramas:
|Actor/Actress||Character||Also Seen In|
|Colin Firth||Jack Worthing||Pride and Prejudice (1995) as Mr. Darcy|
|Frances O'Connor||Gwendolen Fairfax||Mansfield Park (1999) as Fanny Price|
|Judi Dench||Lady Augusta Bracknell||Cranford as Miss Matty Jenkyns|
|Tom Wilkinson||Dr. Frederick Chasuble||Sense and Sensibility (1995) as Mr. Dashwood|
|Anna Massey||Miss Laetitia Prism||He Knew He Was Right as Aunt Stanbury|
|Edward Fox||Lane||Daniel Deronda as Sir Hugo Mallinger|
|Finty Williams||Young Lady Augusta Bracknell||Cranford as Mrs. Clara Smith|
The movie in general I found was a bit hard to follow. I don't know if it was because it was pretty fast moving or what, but I think I missed quite a bit at the beginning. I'm still puzzled why Jack bothered with keeping up two identities; Algy at least had a reason since he wanted to get out of dinners with his aunt (which was a bad excuse, no doubt), but I still don't know what excuse Jack had.
|Algernon/Algy Moncrieff (left) and Jack Worthing|
|Gwendolen (left) and Cecily|
|Algy and Cecily with Lady Bracknell (middle)|
Very nice scenery! Most of the delightful scenes take place in the country at Jack and Cecily's home in Hertfordshire. There were plenty of outdoor scenes that were very colorful and pleasing to look at. The house was also very bright and ornate. The town scenes mostly take place either at Jack and Algy's club or at Lady Augusta Bracknell's home (which is also light and ornate).
|Cecily and Gwendolen|
I didn't hate this movie, but I don't think I liked it all that much. Granted, it had Colin Firth in it, so it wasn't a complete disaster to me. I know the acting was done for comedic effect, but it just didn't seem real to me. It was almost like the actors/actresses were striving for comedic acting to the point where it wasn't real anymore. Nevertheless, the costuming is very nice and there are some lovely scenes to behold. This is definitely one of those movies where I could say, "Yes, I saw it, but I probably won't watch it again." For all of you, I would recommend watching it once, but after one time you may not wish to watch it again.
The film is rated PG, but you may wish to skip one part (which was unnecessary to the storyline and was just weird). It involved Gwendolen getting a tattoo (which I'm pretty sure that no respectable English lady would have even considered getting one); I also understand (thanks to IMDB) that there is a similar scene in the credits. There is also some innuendo and a scene that could have been bad but wasn't, but that's about it for content.
The Importance of Being Earnest is available on DVD. It runs for 97 minutes and is rated PG.