"Some time in the past when things were much as they are now, only more so..." A satirical comedy as well as a love story, Bright Youngs Things marks the the directoral debut of actor Stephen Fry. "Bright Young Things,"... more » says Fry, "is a period film shot with modern pace and cinematography. It deals with fame, sexual scandal, greed, night-clubbing, and the frantic glamour of youth." While the central plot of Bright Young Things is a romance, it is also a highly topical social comedy that shows a conservative older generation failing to understand the club culture, music, dance, and frenetic pace of its children, modern society at its most decadent and most colorful is fully on display as is the popular media fueled by gossip columnists and paparazzi who dominate a tabloid press propelled by rumor and scandal.« less
2003 directorial debut of Stephen Fry. Based on Evelyn Waugh's 1930 novel 'Vile Bodies'; however, Fry states the film and book are separate entities. The premise are the aristocratic lives of carefree bohemians before WWII. These are people who believe nothing's going to change the world and are trying to stuff as much wild living in betwixt it all. The whole thing is a light-hearted blur, and the slender thread running through it is the fragile love between the two leads which will survive the chaos over time.
Many familiar faces grace the screen for their tidbits. This was John Mills last hurrah (with several snorts of cocaine) before his death in 2005. As well, David Tennant is here (now all those ginger references make sense from several seasons of Doctor Who.) And Fenella Woolgar as Agatha Runcible has a self-destructive stint with a motorcar which is quite reminiscent of Toad of Toad Hall in Wind in the Willows. Of course, it lands her in an institution. Well, you know, that's the problem with parties. They end.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Glittering small gem of a movie
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 12/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS is a rare gem of a movie. Based on Evelyn Waugh's landmark novel "Vile Bodies" and directed with great skill by Stephen Fry (in his directorial debut), the film is an exciting mix of great performances and a fabulous story.
Penniless author Adam Fenwick-Symes (Stephen Campbell Moore) resorts to drastic measures in order to get the neccessary funds to marry Nina Blount (Emily Mortimer), a carefree socialite who is one of the `bright young things', a group of young aristocrats for whom life is one endless party. Despite the looming spectre of the Second World War, nothing will stop these hedonistic creatures from living life to the fullest.
Evelyn Waugh's "Vile Bodies" was set in an imagined future, but Stephen Fry has wisely (and quite effectively) placed the story in it's accurate historical timeframe. The story perfectly brings to life the generation born between the two wars who felt completely detatched from what occurred in the past and cared little for what lay ahead.
The cast is outstanding: Campbell Moore and Mortimer are wonderful as the central romantic couple Adam and Nina; surrounding them is a gallery of unforgettable supporting players. Fenella Woolgar steals the show as eccentric party-girl Agatha with James McAvoy and Michael Sheen in top form. There are also delightful cameo-style roles for illustrious stars including Stockard Channing, Sir John Mills, Julia McKenzie, Peter O'Toole, Simon Callow, Dan Aykroyd, Angela Thorne, Imelda Staunton and Richard E. Grant.
I was greatly impressed with this gem of a movie. BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS is a period film with a twist."
Entertaining stylish movie
Tim Lieder | New York, NY | 01/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I very much like how Stephen Fry changed the title of Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies to Bright Young Things and in essence said that they were different works entirely (something that he claims is a tradition in adaptations dating from the early days of film and theater) because where the book is sharp and nasty in places, Fry gives a nostalgic view of 1930s Britain from the perspective of the children of nobility, born just a little too late to miss WWI, filling their lives with parties, gossip and inventions.
Fry loves to use the old fashioned camera techniques (the wipe, the shrinking looney tunes circle) which adds to the general atmosphere of frivolity. Through a large cast of characters, he moves briskly through Waugh's novel with all the costumes, gambling, drug taking, suicides, car racing and society page gossip. Peter O'Toole as the doddering noble who may or may not be senile shines in the movie but the entire cast is excellent, especially Jim Broadbent as the Drunk Major.
As with the book, the frivolity turns tragic, but so its subtle enough that everything feels natural. And the comedy does remain throughout. The one unfortunate choice (at least for readers of the book) that Fry makes is to extend the plot for 15 minutes after Waugh's apocalyptic ending (he wrote it in 1932 and ends it with WWII - although he was only using that to end his book, not as a prediction) into a post-WWII happy ending. I don't know if I would have cared had I not read the book, but it does feel too jarring for anyone that enjoys the cynical original."
Not bad - but pales in comparison with the book
Cecily Champagne | Indiana | 05/04/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It is difficult to fairly assess a film when you've recently read and immensely enjoyed the book it was based on. Although - ideally - Bright Young Things should be evaluated for its own faults and merits and not be measured against Vile Bodies, I - admittedly - cannot help but compare it to Evelyn Waugh's biting comic satire.
For the most part, Bright Young Things is faithful to the plot of Vile Bodies. It follows the lives of several young London socialites as they hop from one glamorous party to the next, always with an air of wit and boredom, and it focuses on the might-be romance between Adam, a poor young writer, and his lovely fiance, Nina. Although light and comic on its surface, Bright Young Things also preserves the dark undercurrent that runs through the novel.
And yet, this film - in my opinion - misses the mark. To begin with, I believe that it spends too much time trying to develop its plot and not enough time lingering over the characters' verbal musings. Vile Bodies truly excels in its dialogue, not in the development of its story. And, because the makers of Bright Young Things apparently failed to realize this, the film is resultantly much less funny.
I also feel that Bright Young Things takes itself too seriously. The romance between Adam and Nina comes across as much more sincere in the film than it does in the book. Also, the film's ending is very different from the book's; it tidies things up neatly and inserts a sort of hopeful, moral. To me, this came across as forced and incongruent with the story.
I think Vile Bodies has the potential to be made into a great film. After all, with the abundance of dialogue, it reads more like a play than a novel anyway. Unfortunately, this film does not do the story justice. If you have read the book, I think you'll be disappointed. If you haven't read it - you might find this film - with its subtle, dry wit - funnier than your average comedy ... but, then again ... why not just read the book? It's better."
All Parade and No Circus
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/11/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Everyone who loves British wit and acerbic satire knows the writing of Evelyn Waugh and the acting and wit of Actor/Director Stephen Fry: the idea of Fry adapting Waugh's raucous campy vamp of England in the 1930s seems like the perfect fit. In many ways it is - in particulars, but alas not in the totality of the work that resulted in this vacuous film.
While the camera work is endlessly interesting, it does often upstage the point of the story. Or maybe that is part of the problem with this colorful film - its lack of point. BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS tackles the class structure of England in a bit heavily one-sided foray, leaving us with the feeling that all of England's young folk prior to WW II were party people with little else on their minds than garish flamboyant stupefying parties...and the importance of having money. Manipulation of the gentry, the willy-nilly ups and downs of serendipitous fortunes, and the self indulgent morals of the characters that populate this story seem to be Fry's gleaning of the Waugh text.
Not that this is a bad movie: this is as colorful, darkly witty study of the shallow life of the times and the dialogue is very funny and very cutting. The actors are all in that rare class of Britain's best: Jim Broadbent, Peter O'Toole, Emily Mortimer, Michael Sheen, Stephen Campbell Moore, David Tennant, Fenella Woolgar, Julia McKenzie, Simon Callow, John Mills (and even adding Stockard Channing!) all are entertaining but each manages to keep his character one dimensional.
I suppose there is a point to this, but though entertained by the film, the point of adapting Waugh's VILE BODIES into this bit of fluff remains nebulous at best. Grady Harp, February 2005"
Bright young things... with an edge
Sarah Borkowski | Charlotte, NC | 02/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie based on Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies (which I admit I have not read) was a finely crafted peek into frivolous high society. The movie starts with a crazy, costumed, drug-infused party and an unfortunate young man (Adam Symes) who loses all his money. He constantly breaks off and reinstates his engagement with Nina depending on how much money he has. The first half of the money is full of the characters' hilarious confusion and lack of interest in anything and absolutely everything. Parties galore and the insult of the day is to be "boring".
Yet things take a sour turn as their pettiness starts to affect other peoples' lives. Then tragedy encroaches, and one sees that life can't be one big party (even if they really, really want it to be). The tragic elements make the characters real and makes the movie more than just a ficticious gossip column. Stephen Campbell Moore does a great job as the "innocent" friend caught up in a whirlwind of craziness. Though he acts the fine line well, since he is just as involved and guilty as everyone else. But you still have to love him! Fenella Woolgar is a wonderful comic relief, but she thankully brings us back to life when she talks of her "dream" of endlessly, pointlessly driving in circles. The upbeat big band music is uplifting yet also melancholy at times and provides great background to the action onscreen.
Great movie, and now I am going to go read the book!"