In the small English village called Little Wallop, there is a lonely housewife named Gloria Goodfellow (Kristin Scott Thomas). Now I am afraid to say that Gloria is having a somewhat difficult time of it at the moment, as: (1) She cannot sleep due to the neighbors dog constantly barking at night. (2) She feels unwanted due to husband, Reverend Walter Goodfellow (Rowan Atkinson), devotion to his church. (3) She is alarmed due to her nymphomaniac daughter, Holly (Tasmin Egerton), promiscuous nature. And (4) She becomes troubled that her son, Petey (Toby Parkes),is having a difficult time at school.
Heck, the only time Gloria ever feels anything positive, is when she is in the arms of her lover / golf-instructor, Lance (Patrick Swayze).
However, one brisk summer’s day, Gloria and Walter employ an aged housekeeper called Grace Hawkins (Maggie Smith), so that this helpful-aide can assist them with their daily actives. But is this the case? Errr? Maybe? Because as soon as Grace arrives - the neighbor’s dog mysteriously disappears – Peteys troubles at school fade away – Walter becomes more amenable with his work – and Holly becomes more focused on choosing a more suitable partner for herself.
Wow! Isn't Grace something special, huh? Being able to do all of these thing with her sly ways and her persuasive manner. Regrettably - no - Gloria does no think so - and she confronts her about this too. And do you know what Graces response is? She diverts this conversation away to her own times past, before she sets her sights on the love triangle -Gloria, Lance, and Walter.
Please note, Grace's deployed in this venture is in a rather underhand manner, as she coerces Walter closer to Gloria via subtle and biblical persuasions, whilst she has a more hand’s on and direct approach on Lance, THUD!
Hmm? So everything should be OK now in the Goodfellow household, correct? Well – kind of – as due to some astonishing news on the television whilst Walter is away at a conference – revelations are made – daughters are dismayed – and a mothers history is strangely replayed.
Not the end.
OK, I have to admit, that I really do like 'Keeping Mum'. Conceptually this movie reminded me of an amalgamation of 'Mary Poppins', 'Hot Fuzz', plus an updated version of an old Ealing production (where they currently make Harry Potter). Granted, I know that this does sound like a very strange combination for a film to possess - but saying that - this is a very strange film.
No, not ‘bad strange’, but ‘good strange’ – like watching a waterfall flow backwards.
So what makes this strange film such a good strange film, huh? Well, a combination of things actually, and all of them to do with character, story, charm, and grace (and I am not referring to the name of one of the characters in this movie).
Where character is concerned, this film has it in abundance – as you know from the very first time you see someone, who they are, what they do, and what they are all about. Funny enough, the story works in the exact same way also – however – this is where the 'grace and 'charm' part of the equation comes into play as well. You see, the predictability of this film is imbued with a charming disposition, and allows for the overall flow of the narration to become enraptured with a graceful panache that is just beautiful to behold.
Personally speaking, I find that the predictability to ‘Keeping Mum’ somehow saves it from being just another run of the mill British comedy. Moreover, the main reason for this, is because all the way through 'Keeping Mum', you can sense what is going to happen next. And then, once it happens, and the plot starts to escalate, plus you are on tender hooks to see how things are going to turn out – bang – a predictable film becomes not so predictable, and you are left scratching your head in amazement.
This film is that good.
Also, I have to mention all of the actors involved too, because every single one of them brings something special to the table that is just divine. Rowan is a card – Kristin is superb – Maggie is an angel – Patrick is a star – and the kids are just great as well. Fair enough, I know that some critiques out there were not as favorable towards this film and all involved as I have been – but I just put this down to me having an acquired taste and a love for British fare.
Please note, you do not have to be British to appreciate this film, instead, I think that you have to have a quaint and rustic way of looking at things, and understand how predictability can help a film if aided by charm, wit, and grace.
|[ Patrick's Last Film ]|
Overall, ‘Keeping Mum’ is a nice slice of yesteryear repackaged in a more modern milieu, plus it is one of those films that is particularly British, strange, and offbeat in nature. So if you are a fan of ‘Mary Poppins’ meets ‘Hot Fuzz’, or alternately all of the actors involved – this is one to watch – with no compromise.
THE RATING: A-