Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5  
Bright Young Things (2003)
15 Contains drug references and use

Comic, novelist, actor and wit, Stephen Fry slaps another string to his bow with this enjoyable directorial debut, a period dramedy which gently satirises celebrity culture some 70 years before it became unbearable.

Adam Symes (Stephen Campbell Moore) is a wannabe writer whose titular tome is destined to exploit the lifestyle of the rich and famous gadabouts of 30s London. But returning from France, this "filth" is confiscated by customs - meaning he can't afford to marry socialite 'party animal' Nina Blout (Emily Mortimer).

His attempts to earn a crust, their romance and friendships form the world through which we whirl for 106 breathless minutes, as Evelyn Waugh's novel "Vile Bodies" is whisked into a sprightly, if slight, little movie.

With drug-taking, celebrity scandals and the encroaching fog of war, Bright Young Things couldn't be more prescient. The points it makes may be obvious, but they remain necessary in so superficial a society.

Some filmmakers would vilify the spoilt brats on screen, but it's to Fry's credit that he clearly cares about his creations - and elicits excellent performances from the young cast.

Mortimer makes a potentially unsympathetic character tender and touching, Michael Sheen excels as an exuberantly camp "naughty salt"-snorter, and Campbell Moore is astonishingly accomplished for a first-time feature actor - as is James McAvoy, who burns brightly and brilliantly as the tragic Lord Balcairn.

The picture's problem is that the writer-director is so desperate not to bore, he flits through the action a little too briskly, whizzing along with little rhythm. The story feels episodic, perhaps better suited to a television series.

And while there are moments of visual panache - the opening Moulin Rouge - style 'Inferno' party; the fast-cutting, hyperactive style used for the outstanding Dan Aykroyd's paper proprietor - it doesn't consistently engage the eye (possibly due to budget constraints).

Still, a witty, intelligent, promising picture. Carry on, Jeeves.

End Credits

Director: Stephen Fry

Writer: Stephen Fry

Stars: Stephen Campbell Moore, Emily Mortimer, James McAvoy, Dan Aykroyd, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Peter O'Toole

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Length: 106 minutes

Cinema: 03 October 2003

Country: UK

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