Easy Virtue

Easy Virtue

Easy Virtue is not your typical period film. Even though it takes place in the 1920s, it has a modern edge with a contemporary-made-period soundtrack. Before taking on his familial responsibilities, John (Ben Barnes) took a hiatus in America. When he returns to his strict Victorian-ruled home, he is joined by his wife Larita (Jessica […]


Easy Virtue is not your typical period film. Even though it takes place in the 1920s, it has a modern edge with a contemporary-made-period soundtrack.

Before taking on his familial responsibilities, John (Ben Barnes) took a hiatus in America. When he returns to his strict Victorian-ruled home, he is joined by his wife Larita (Jessica Biel), a sexy, older, widowed American race car champion. Mrs. Whittaker (Kristin Scott Thomas) is appalled by her son’s choice in partners; while her two daughters (Kimberley Nixon and Katherine Parkinson) are initially captivated by Larita, they soon join their mother’s ranks. Larita does, however, find an ally in Mr. Whittaker (Colin Firth). He may have returned from the war in body but not in soul. What takes place is a battle of wits between Mrs. Whittaker and Larita, as they each try to be the most important woman in John’s life.

The film is a combination of fun and venom. Mrs. Whittaker represents a standard of life that became outdated with the end of World War I, while Larita is the essence of glamour of the roaring ‘20s. Both Thomas and Biel play their roles to a tee. Even though John is the cause of the tension, he becomes somewhat secondary to the women’s toxic relationship. One of the most important elements of this clash is the underlying comedy. Larita endures some hilarious accidents that only worsen her attempts to befriend Mrs. Whittaker until she finally abandons all efforts entirely.

It’s definitely categorized as a romantic comedy; however, the romance unexpectedly occurs between Larita and Mr. Whittaker rather than the newlyweds. The connection between Larita and her father-in-law is completely platonic but her vibrant energy brings him back to life, when he had retreated from his family so long ago. He is accepting, if not encouraging, of her behaviour and style. Meanwhile, she finds comfort in his company as they bond over their misfit-status within the family.

Easy Virtue is an enjoyable romp in a time long gone, without conforming to the unexciting standards of a period piece.