Directed by Oliver Parker, starring Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Frances O'Connor, Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson.
If Oliver Parker had a wish list cast in mind for his second Wilde adaptation (1999's 'An Ideal Husband' being the first), chances are it wasn't much longer than Colin Firth as Jack, Rupert Everett as Algy, Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell and Tom Wilkinson as Dr Chasuble. But in an inspired departure from the predictable, Parker also found space for Reese Witherspoon as Cecily. The inclusion of an American actress in such an English role shows a director unafraid to take risks. Sadly, her performance is also the most memorable aspect of the finished film.
Expanding the world of 1890's England, Parker includes plenty of backstory to the lives of Jack, Algy, Cecily and Gwendolen (O'Connor). But his 'Importance…' is never exciting or funny enough to keep carry you through the mix-ups and make-ups which Wilde's characters endure. It looks beautiful but only makes you smile in an 'afternoon tea' type of way. And while Parker deserves credit for putting his own twist on proceedings, he was always to destined to be measured against Anthony Asquith's acclaimed 1952 screen adaptation.
Period drama and Wilde fans will enjoy 'The Importance of Being Earnest' but for the rest of us, it's way too light to be satisfying.