Monday Movie: Bright Young Things, by David Bax
Bright Young Things is a terribly fun film to watch. It should be, having been written and directed by the terribly funny British comedian/actor Stephen Fry (why this remains his only directorial effort I cannot grasp) and containing a cast beyond belief (Emily Mortimer, Michael Sheen, Dan Aykroyd, David Tennant, James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Stockard Channing, Simon Callow, Imelda Staunton, Richard E. Grant and Peter Freaking O’Toole). It careens through its complicated and sprawling plot at a pace that could give Guy Ritchie motion sickness. But it doesn’t rely on its bag of visual tricks merely to keep you entertained. Stephen Fry (just like Evelyn Waugh, upon whose wonderful 1930 novel Vile Bodies the film is based) is not only a comedian but a satirist, a job description that counts insight and understanding among its prerequisites. The story follows a loose group of wealthy socialites as they drink and party their way from the late 1920’s to the breakout of World War II (a slight shift from the novel’s timeline). Fry is not only interested in letting you know that people born into riches who have lived entire lives void of responsibility and often find themselves the subject of cheap press existed well before Paris Hilton. He also aims to explore, with the whiplash pace of his camera and his dialogue, the ways in which these people are still people. They are tragically human and dangerously inhuman in ways that are devastating not only for themselves but for the world they live in. Though it becomes upsettingly bleaker and bleaker as it progresses, Bright Young Things is a film full of life.