Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5   User Rating 5 out of 5
Relative Values (2000)

No-one ever said that Julie Andrews didn't glow. Or didn't look utterly English. Even now, as she nudges 65, she seems - even when standing motionless - to have the jolliest kind of life going on inside her and to represent an England which barely exists any more. It is most fitting, then, that she is the comic cornerstone of Noël Coward's high-jinks frolic, a happy satire on English class set in the 50s. She is the Countess of Marshwood, a woman content with her status and class, but bright enough to see that social change is just over the hill. The Countess is mother to a decent idiot of a son (Edward Atterton), who has brought home a self-serving Hollywood film starlet (Jeanne Tripplehorn) who drools, if not over her fiancé, then certainly over the perks of his position. When the Countess's maid (Sophie Thompson) discovers she is the starlet's sister, the comedy of social mobility is about to explode.

Which it does. Most amusingly indeed. Eric Styles (whose first film was "Dreaming of Joseph Lees") has kept Coward's play evenly balanced between satire and farce, and for every waspish line there is an outbreak of running around and door-slamming.

Andrews savours every vowel as the kind of woman who appears to be nice even when being highly offensive, Colin Firth is increasingly hilarious as the cousin who has an objective view of the spiralling lunacy, Stephen Fry is predictably (but no less amusingly) cast as the urbane, intelligent butler, and Sophie Thompson has a grand old time feigning airs and graces. Fun in every frame.

End Credits

Director: Eric Styles

Writer: Noël Coward, Paul Ratigan, Michael Walker

Stars: Julie Andrews, William Baldwin, Edward Atterton, Sophie Thompson, Colin Firth, Stephen Fry

Length: 89 minutes

Cinema: 26 May 2000

Country: United Kingdom

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