The Importance of Being Earnest

2002, Comedy/Drama, 1h 37m

116 Reviews 25,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Oliver Parker's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's classic play is breezy entertainment, helped by an impressive cast, but it also suffers from some peculiar directorial choices that ultimately dampen the film's impact. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Two young gents have taken to bending the truth in order to put some excitement into their lives. Worthing (Colin Firth) has invented a brother, Earnest, whom he uses as an excuse to leave his dull life behind to visit Gwendolyn (Frances O'Connor). Montcrieff (Rupert Everett) decides to take the name Earnest when visiting Worthing's young and beautiful ward, Cecily (Reese Witherspoon). Things start to go awry when they end up together in the country and their deceptions are discovered.

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Critic Reviews for The Importance of Being Earnest

Audience Reviews for The Importance of Being Earnest

  • Jan 26, 2012
    This adaptation of the classic play is a very nice tribute, keeping the dialogue and characters, very close to home. What I must comment on, is that the settings and outdoor scenes felt a little understudied. There is a particular scene that should have taken place in the living room, but ended up displaying it outside as Cecily climbs down a ladder. I absolutely love the story of how two friends meet a love of their life, and are both disapproved by someone or another. It is such a funny idea to have both girls in love with the name earnest, while figuring out that both men calling themselves Earnest, do not even helm that proper name. The overall story is a brilliant little tale that I will probably refer to for a long time, and the play does portray the substance with perfection, but the few scenes of dumb humour, the set locations, the al bait too short running time, and odd take for direction, slightly degrades the effectiveness that the play brought upon. However, I highly enjoy this film, and I would have no problem recommending it to anyone, even if that haven't read the play!
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Jul 13, 2011
    a witty, smart, hillarious and enjoyable peerless comedy with manners! also has to be one of colin firth's best performance! A+
    Juan C Super Reviewer
  • Nov 02, 2010
    This movie has its moments, but despite an excellent cast the attempts to jazz up the content detracted rather than added to the enjoyment. The whole pre-Raphaelite fantasy thing creaked like a rusty door. The wit and charm of the original play still pokes through with Firth, Dench, Wilkinson, etc. doing what they can, but these are almost obscured by this schoolboyish attempt to try a new angle.
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 17, 2010
    The theme of the play is, in true Wilde fashion, utilizes a clever play on words to make its point. The `earnest' of the title serves a double function, referring to both the importance of honesty and truthfulness in human relations and to the fact that two men are displaying anything but those virtues when they commandeer the name Ernest as a pseudonym to advance their own selfish causes. Beautifully filmed in the lovely English countryside, this movie revolves around two wealthy and decadent men in London. Both lead secret lives: Jack Worthing pretends to be his wild brother Ernest when in the city, so that he can live the good life and keep his good reputation, while Algernon Moncrieff has a conveniently sick friend called Mr. Bunbury, whom he 'visits' when he wants to escape into the country. The two men have been pulling off their tangled webs quite nicely until their deception leads to complications in their romantic lives when they are discovered by Cecily (Reese Witherspoon), Jack's ward whom Algernon is pursuing, and Gwendolyn (Frances O'Connor), Algernon's cousin whom Jack adores. RUPERT EVERETT was the standout for me, excellent flair for light tongue-in-cheek comedy while REESE WITHERSPOON give a delightful performance playing a dreamy and head-in-the-clouds character (although she failed to hold a consistent English accent from one line to the next). COLIN FIRTH was his usual excellent self while Dame Judi Dench is great as she plays an absolute dragon as Gwendolyn's mother, Lady Bracknell.
    Deb S Super Reviewer

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