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Bright Young Things

  Bright Young Things
A lovely evening is soiled by a broken sewer line.

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Hey, it's whatshisname from, you know, that movie! "Bright Young Things" (IMDb listing) is one of those movies with a fabulous ensemble cast of notable newcomers and distinguished character actors whose faces you instantly recognize, but whose names you can't quite place. And they're all in it for the acting, turning in terrific performances that brilliantly complement each other, making this one weird, funny and highly entertaining piece of cinema.

Shortly before the second World War, writer Adam Symes (Stephen Campbell Moore) returns to London and the eccentric, frenzied, party-driven world of his fiancee Nina (Emily Mortimer) and their friends, known in the city and the scandal-hungry press only as the Bright Young Things. Forever trying to scrape together enough money to marry Nina, the odds seem perpetually stacked against Adam. His book is confiscated as "dirt" by a customs officer and he gives a substantial amount of money, won in a bet, to the Drunken Major (Jim Broadbent) who promises to put it on the winning horse in the November Handicap, then promptly disappears. But money is just one of Adam's problems as the clique's drug and drink fuelled social life spins ever more out of control, claiming casualties along the way. Suddenly, at the height of the perpetual party, war is declared and the Bright Young Things are forced to re-evaluate life's priorities.

Joining Moore and Mortimer are Fenella Woolgar, James McAvoy, Michael Sheen and Guy Henry as the Bright Young Things. They're supported by a cameo line-up including Dan Aykroyd, Broadbent, Simon Callow, Stockard Channing, Richard E. Grant, Julia McKenzie, Sir John Mills (thrilled to partake in his first-ever cocaine movie at 94), Peter O'Toole, Bill Paterson, Imelda Staunton and Harriet Walter.

"Bright Young Things" is a complex and smart directorial debut from writer/actor Stephen Fry, who adapted the screenplay from Evelyn Waugh's novel "Vile Bodies." Waugh, by the by, is indeed a man, in case you weren't quite sure either. Producer Miranda Davis loved the book on first read, thinking, "it really reflected a part of how we live now -- our obsession with celebrity [and] status," it would make a lovely film. Fry, "Vile Bodies" being one of his favorites, was recruited to write the screenplay and Davis decided to pop the question whether he wanted to direct. Said Fry, "I thought you'd never ask."

"Bright Young Things," shot on location in and around London, is a visually enticing film that offers a glimpse of English eccentricity at its most extravagant. British to the core, it's probably not for everyone. You'll either get it, or you won't, but it's worth taking the chance.

Filmfodder Grade: A

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