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29 October 2014
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15Bright Young Things (2003)

updated 30th September 2003
reviewer's rating
three star
Reviewed by Nev Pierce


Director
Stephen Fry
Writer
Stephen Fry
Stars
Stephen Campbell Moore
Emily Mortimer
James McAvoy
Dan Aykroyd
Michael Sheen
Jim Broadbent
Peter O'Toole
Length
106 minutes
Distributor
Icon
Cinema
3rd October 2003
Country
UK
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Web Links
Visit the official website

Interview with director Stephen Fry



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.

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