Keeping Mum (2006) Review

Keeping Mum (2006) Review
Keeping Mum (2006) Review 1
Keeping Mum (2006)
Director(s): Niall Johnson
Actor(s): Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith
Running Time: 99 min
CGM Editors Choice
| October 6, 2006

Nobody does dry sardonic humour like the British, especially when there’s an element of dark comedy in the mix. Can you imagine a movie about a homicidal housekeeper moving in with a reverend and his family after being released from 40 years in prison being done with an American cast? Exactly, and you probably just remembered all the times that an American production has tried to adapt British material; the success of of The Office notwithstanding.

Maggie Smith plays Grace Hawkins, who, when she was a young woman, killed her husband and his mistress, put them in a trunk and lugged them cross country on a train, all while she was pregnant. Freshly released from jail, Grace finds work in the home of Reverend Goodfellow (Rowan Atkinson) and his family, with whom she has a mysterious connection. The Goodfellows includes wife Gloria (Kristen Scott-Thomas) who’s been lately feeling neglected by her husband; their nympho daughter Holly (Tamsin Egerton) and their son Petey (Toby Parkes) who hides in fear from the local bullies. As soon as Grace comes into their lives, the Goodfellows find that things are starting to go their way. Little do they realize though that Grace is more than a good luck charm, but rather she creates her own luck if you follow that innuendo.

The whole thing sounds more Agatha Christie than Monty Python, but Keeping Mum is a genuine slice of black comedy perfection carried through by the strength of its performers. Smith gets this wickedly devious grin on her face when Grace is up to no good, like when she cuts the break lines on the bikes of the bullies. She’s also marvelously sardonic as she delivers lines like, “Oh, I don’t think that will be necessary dear,” when one character mentions killing another. Atkinson, on the other hand, does the buttoned-up, stuffed shirt vicar right with a low key performance that doesn’t go for the easy laugh. Patrick Swayze contributes greatly in a small way by playing the smarmy American golf pro who is trying to seduce Gloria; call me crazy but I think that Swayze has a great side career going by playing the guy you love to hate (see also Donnie Darko).

Be warned though, Keeping Mum is typically British so fans of that sense of humour will be in heaven while others will be left scratching their heads not getting it. A great story, great cast, and great comedy makes this Mum worth seeking out for anyone with a funny bone.

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