Easy Virtue (Blu-ray)

There are certain rules in old-money families—first and foremost, don't break with tradition. But John (Ben Barnes) does just that when he brings his new American wife (Jessica Biel) home to his family's English countryside estate. His pretentious mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) is offended by her lack of culture, and his two sisters have divergent feelings, but his father (Colin Firth) thinks she's a hoot and loves how she's able to put his wife in her place.

Stephen Elliott's adaptation of Noel Coward's 1926 play is well acted—surprisingly, this includes Jessica Biel, who, until this film, had never impressed me with her talent, though she's easy on the eyes. Along with Colin Firth, the comedy moves along at a brisk pace, although the third act falls apart due to its predictable and unsatisfying ending.

With the dreary English countryside serving as the backdrop, this isn't the most dazzling AVC presentation I've seen to date, but it has its moments. Detail is outstanding, especially in the intricate aspects of the architecture, colors are subdued but accurate, and black levels are inky and deep. Resolution is adequate, although director of photography Martin Kenzie seems to have used a lot of soft filters to fit the time period, which blurs the facial features on the actors.

The front-heavy Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is solid, yet unremarkable. Dialog is firmly rooted in the center speaker and is mostly intelligible, but some of the fast-speaking English accents can be a little hard to comprehend. Stereo spread across the front is decent, and discrete sound effects from the rear of the room are sparse, but the score by Marius De Vries opens up the soundstage when appropriate.

The meager supplements include an audio commentary from the writer/director Stephan Elliot and co-writer Sheridan Jobbins, some deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and some footage from the New York premiere —all in standard definition.

I typically love British humor, and this is no exception. The witty—and sometimes brutally honest—dialog is hilarious, and the pacing is excellent. The presentation is solid, making this title definitely worth a rental if for no other reason than to prove that, yes, Jessica Biel can act—really, she can.

Release Date: September 15, 2009
Studio: Sony

Movie: 7/10
Picture: 8/10
Sound: 8/10

Review System

Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player

JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner

M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector

Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics