Keeping Mum

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner30/11/2005

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Well-acted, frequently amusing comedy drama, although it suffers from a wildly uneven tone and doesn’t quite succeed either as black comedy or feelgood movie.

The Background
The casting of Keeping Mum seems deliberately intended to remind you of Four Weddings and a Funeral. However, despite the posters all parading Atkinson’s gurning face, this isn’t actually a Rowan Atkinson vehicle. In fact, he plays it surprisingly straight, leaving the business of comedy to the seasoned hands of Maggie Smith.

The Story
Smith plays Grace, a little old lady who turns up in the village of Little Wallop (population: 57) and winds up as the housekeeper to the Goodfellow family. The family includes workaholic Reverend Walter (Rowan Atkinson), his sex-starved wife Gloria (Kristen Scott-Thomas), his nymphomaniac daughter Holly (Tamsin Egerton) and his sensitive, bullied-at-school son Petey (Tobey Parkes).

Being an essentially good-natured sort, Grace sets out to resolve her new family’s problems. The problem is, her methods are somewhat unorthodox.

The Bad
The main problem with Keeping Mum is that it appears to want to be two entirely different films – a feel good family relationship drama with an intriguing central point about religion and a jet-black comedy along the lines of Serial Mom. As a result, the uneven tone of the film is extremely jarring, meaning that neither element really comes together.

The Good
That’s not to say that there aren’t certain individual scenes and moments which work well.Smith is hilarious throughout and you can tell she’s having a huge amount of fun in the role. Scott Thomas is great too, particularly as she’s nominally the main character but isn’t afraid to play Gloria as unsympathetic in places.

There’s also strong support from Tamsin Egerton (a British starlet in the making) and Patrick Swayze, resurrecting his Donnie Darko sleazebag role to play Gloria’s perverted golf instructor. Atkinson is surprisingly good in a rare straight role and Emilia Fox puts in a welcome cameo.

The Conclusion
To sum up, Keeping Mum doesn’t quite succeed as either comedy or feelgood drama but the performances are excellent and there are a few good laughs to be had along the way. Worth seeing.

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Keeping Mum
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Content updated: 20/02/2020 11:08

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