starring Jessica Biel, Colin Firth, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Barnes
screenplay by Stephan Elliott & Sheridan Jobbins, based on the play by Noël Coward
directed by Stephan Elliott
by Walter Chaw At first glance, it would seem that Stephan Elliott's pictures follow no conventional line. Start with 1993's Frauds, starring Hugo Weaving and (yes, that) Phil Collins, then proceed to Elliott's landmark The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Then it's on to that film's tonal antidote (think an Outback Woman in the Dunes with Rogers & Hammerstein interludes), Welcome to Woop Woop; a Hollywood sojourn (the criminally-underestimated serial killer/FBI procedural Eye of the Beholder); and finally, one near-fatal ski accident later, an oddly appropriate return to form in the Noël Coward adaptation Easy Virtue. These movies are almost Billy Wilder-ian in their variety--literally, in that Elliott seems above all keenly attuned to the comic opportunity--the Lubitsch, if you will--in relational dynamics, but also in that he begins with something like a thriller, goes to camp, goes to camp thriller, returns to thriller, and now does something almost entirely genre-peculiar. It's a vertiginous enough trajectory that for the first half-hour of Easy Virtue, I'd forgotten I was watching a Stephan Elliott film--that the fact that Elliott directed it was indeed the only reason I was interested in seeing Jessica Biel spar with Kristin Scott Thomas on a sprawling English estate in the 1920s.