A smart comedy. Helena Bonham Carter steals the show.
flickjunkie | 03/07/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"British humor is distinctly different from American humor and this film illustrates that point nicely. American humor hits you with a sledgehammer, with outrageous gags and extremely explicit content. British humor is full of innuendo, irony and subtlety. It is thoughtful wit, full of "aha!" moments. This is why Americans often refer to British humor as being dry, mostly because we don't like pondering over our comedy. We prefer a guffaw to a good snicker.In this film, Karen (Helena Bonham Carter) and Henry (Sam Neill) meet one night on a bridge where they both went to commit suicide. Henry is interrupted from jumping by the cries of Karen who has botched her attempt. After he saves her, they commiserate and decide that getting revenge would be better than committing suicide. They make a pact where each of them agrees to even the score for the other with their respective objects of contempt.Karen becomes a secretary to Henry's old boss (Steve Coogan) and proceeds to make his life a living hell, convincing his wife he is having an affair. Henry's target is Imogen (Kristen Scott Thomas), whom Karen hates because she stole her husband back from Karen, with whom he was having an affair. The film is replete with highbrow humor that you would only see in an English film. There is plenty of class-warfare comedy poking fun at the aristocracy.Helena Bonham Cater is brilliantly droll as the diabolical Karen. She is deliciously evil as she cunningly plots Bruce's demise. Long known as a terrific dramatic actor, Bonham Carter shows here that she can convert that energy into an intensely offbeat and funny character with equal impact. Sam Neill is also entertaining as Henry, a bumbling victim of fate who allows himself to be swept along by circumstances. Kristin Scott Thomas does a superb job of portraying Imogen, a woman steeped in affectation and arrogance, who ultimately becomes a casualty of love.This highly entertaining film requires a certain refined sense of humor to enjoy. I rated it an 8/10. It will lack punch for the average viewer, but for the viewer who enjoys subtlety and irony it will be amusing and enjoyable."
What A Difference A 1st Class Playwright Can Make
carol irvin | United States | 04/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I used to go to the theater frequently and one playwright I came to adore was Alan Ayckbourn from the UK. He was to comedic plays what playwrights David Mamet and Sam Shepherd were to dramatic ones. Ayckbourn's gift is to hit dead on the essential underpinnings of the British middle and upper classes and set them up for laughter amidst a rollicking good story line. I was absolutely astounded to discover how good Helena Bonham-Carter is doing comedic material. When I first put the disk on the player, hubby saw she was in it and groaned, being convinced she plays nothing other than sullen witches. He was even more astounded than I was by the utterly transformed Bonham-Carter. The basic premise of the comedy is simple. Bonham-Carter will get revenge on Neill's competitor who stole his job. In exchange, Neill will wreck revenge upon the wife of Bonham-Carter's former lover. This leads to one hilarious scene after another with the high point being a duel in the woods, with shotguns, between Neill and the former lover. Only Ayckbourn could come up with 2 Brits using shotguns instead of dueling pistols in the name of honor and make it gently humorous instead of outright Monty Python zaney. If you have never seen an Ayckbourn play or film before, you are in for a treat. Ayckbourn becomes an acquired taste along the way that no other playwright fills quite as well in his little niche British world."
Sarah Thomas | Hertfordshire United Kingdom | 06/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I loved every second of this film. I can't imagine how anyone could not like it. It's funny, full of talented actors esp Sam Neill. Thoroughly entertaining!! A great buy."
Strangers on a Bridge
Kona | Emerald City | 12/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As the story begins, Henry (Sam Neill) has lost his job to an unscrupulous co-worker, and has decided to end it all by jumping off Tower Bridge. There he meets eccentric Karen (Helena Bonham Carter) who has just bungled her own suicide attempt (her lover went back to his wife). They start talking about how much they wish their enemies were dead and Karen gleefully suggests they each do the job for the other. Henry assumes she's kidding, of course, but the next morning he finds Karen has gone ahead with the plan.
If you think this plot sounds a lot like Hitchcock's thriller, "Strangers on a Train," you're right. The difference is this one's played for big laughs with dark humor that I really enjoyed. Neill is very good as the innocent man who gets caught up in the wacky plot hatched by Bonham Carter's character. She steals the show with her outrageous cheekiness. Kristin Scott Thomas is the lover's haughty wife, and no one plays the disdainful aristocrat better than she does. Comic actor Steve Coogan is hysterical as Henry's nemesis. If you like British comedies, you'll love "Sweet Revenge;" it's fast, funny, and loaded with droll upper-class humor. Excellent!