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Bright Young Things
Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous
by Anhoni Patel on Sep 10, 2004
Long before jets were invented, there was a jet set. Those stylish, breezy, too-cool-for-school tendrils of youth who get into the best parties and whiz about with the best drugs. They exist in modern-day New York City, they bounced about Europe in the 1800s and they were the toast of 1930s London. They were also the subject of writer Evelyn Waugh's satirical novel Vile Bodies, which gives a glimpse into a party hardy society on the verge of destruction. Think E!'s True Hollywood Story in book form but with better production values and a brain.
Bright Young Things is its charming and hilarious film version. Directed by talented actor/writer Stephen Fry, this directorial debut could only be called a success. The film captures the chaos of the young, rich and famous in all their delicious decadence. The opening scene is of a hell-themed party comparable to the elaborate Christmas party depicted in Less Than Zero another film recounting the excesses of the rich and privileged with almost as much 'naughty salt' and liquor. Their world is a hedonistic mecca in the heart of London.
In a breakout performance, Stephen Campbell Moore plays Adam Symes a broke chap who nonetheless hangs with the right crowd and whose cheery, offhand disposition allows him to be unperturbed by the most stressful of situations; one of which being his never-ending engagement to the flighty, lovely Nina (Emily Mortimer). As the two try to figure out how to get hitched with nary a pound to their names, they attend a host of parties with their friends who include the flamboyant, coked up and insanely wealthy Miles (Michael Sheen, who's fabulous here) and the wildly charming yet somewhat dim-witted Agatha (Fenella Woolgar). But as all good things must come to an end, so too must the good times of this brat pack. Their world comes crashing down, with WWII being the hammer that finally smashes it all to bits.
Bright Young Things features an amazing ensemble cast replete with cameos from talented actors including Dan Akroyd playing Lord Monomark, a brash, fast-talking American-born newspaper magnet, Stockard Channing who plays Mrs. Melrose Ape, an American evangelists with a taste for angels and Peter O'Toole as the eccentric and uproarious Colonel Blount, father of Nina. While all of Peter O'Toole's hilarious scenes only serve to solidify the actor's unarguable skills, the real scene-stealer here is David Tennant as Ginger, an old chum of Nina's who has money coming out of his ass.
Indeed, all the acting here is superb and the talent only accentuates the engaging story. Eighty percent comedy, ten percent drama and ten percent something else altogether, Bright Young Things just may be the sleeper hit of the year. The movie has a perfect mixture of British dry wit, raucous laugh-out loud comedy and poignant moments of loveliness. There is only one bit of criticism I have and that is regarding Adam's portrayal: why, or even how, this penniless soul without even a title to his name was connected to these people is never explained. But I guess you have to read the book for that.
Stars: 4 out of 5
by Anhoni Patel on Sep 10, 2004