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TOP 100 MOVIES in 2003!
BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS, 2003
Cast: Simon McBurney, Michael Sheen, Emily Mortimer, James McAvoy, Stockard Channing, Dan Aykroyd, Stephen Campbell Moore, Adrian Scarborough
An adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's novel "Vile Bodies," is a look into the lives of a young novelist, his would-be lover, and a host of young people who beautified London in the 1930s.
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Bright Young Things is the sparkling directorial debut of renowned comedian, writer, presenter Stephen Fry. Adapted from the novel by Evelyn Waugh, this film portrays the excesses of an idle generation in 1930’s London, and highlights that history has a way of repeating itself.
The film begins with Adam Fenwick-Symes returning to the country having his manuscript seized by customs. The novel in question has a large advanced paid on it. In order to cost of this loss, as well as plan for the wedding he desires to the ‘flightly’ Nina Blount and trying to maintain their lavish, live-fast lifestyle he begins wheeling and dealing.
Early on he comically makes a dubious wager with a Drunk Major, which turns out win. Only it takes ten years to collect the reward as the Major and his paths never cross. It’s just that sort of tale within the film that typifies it. This is a light-hearted look at how life unravels, and rather more seriously how the life they lead cannot be maintained.
There’s plenty of scandal, a never ending conveyer belt of parties at which to fraternise, socialise and generally act deprived at. There is a wonderful array of subsidiary characters, like the Major, that surround Adam and have their own little narratives that unfold, whether it’s the kooky Agatha, whose cocaine abuse leads her into dark territory, or Miles whose homosexuality eventually leaves him outcast. Their decadence is documented in a newspaper column under the heading Mr Chatterbox, which gives rise to their celebrity status and creates a vacuum of gossip that not only the gossipers thrive upon but the gossiped about as well. It mirrors our current state of celebrity culture almost hauntingly so, hence history repeating.
And while I think the point of the film is to shed light on this period and people’s behaviour, Adam’s own development is a nice anchor for the story to return to. The other characters may be more eccentric, but Adam is by far the most likeable, played by the friendly Stephen Campbell-Moore. In juggling his many ventures whilst trying to temper down his beloved Nina, her former beau Ginger Littlejohn slowly works his way back into her life. Adam and Nina’s separation is finally set with the onset of the Second World War, which has many consequences for the collection of characters in the film.
Eventually though the characters journeys, while all dramatic in their own way, are all to be learned from. The film ends up as a sort of fable that carries a strong message about, well, life. Fry’s delicate touch allows the story to flow smoothly whilst dealing with a lot of threads. And the result is a film which is quite simply a lot of fun to watch, from the behaviour, the style, the thoughtful conclusion and the wonderful array of young actors on display many of whom have gone on to become household names.