Film review: Keeping Mum (2005), directed by Niall Johnson
Some time in the Past, Rosie Jones (Emilia Fox) is a nice, young woman travelling on a train. In the cargo hold, blood is leaking from her suitcase, where’s she’s stowed the bodies of her husband and his mistress. She’s put away for a good many years.
In the Present, there’s a tiny, rural village somewhere in the English countryside where the meek and dull Vicar, Walter Goodfellow (Rowan Atkinson), is struggling to write a speech for a priest’s convention, and that the obnoxious Mrs. Parker (Liz Smith) keeps dropping by to talk about the flower arrangement committee doesn’t help.
Walter’s wife Gloria (Kristin Scott Thomas) is struggling to not succumb to the attentions of her suave (or, rather, sleazy) golf instructor Lance (Patrick Swayze), while trying to stop her promiscuous daughter Holly (Tamsin Egerton) from swapping boyfriends like she swaps knickers, and protect son Petey (Toby Parkes) from being bullied in the school ground.
How very fortunate that the Goodfellows have hired a housekeeper. Grace Hawkins (Dame Maggie Smith) is instantly liked and has a real talent for making problems go away. If only they could guess her secret …
We saw this film at the cinema when it was out, and loved it. It’s a black comedy with the cream of the crop of British actors – and Patrick Swayze, so far away from Dirty Dancing you don’t know whether to be horrified or delighted. I’m both. He’s such a sleazeball it’s hilarious, while at the same time, horrified because Johnny Castle would never do such a thing!
To have Dame Maggie as a highly functioning sociopath is funny in itself. She looks like a kind granny, but oh, don’t let looks fool you! It feels a little unusual to see Dame Maggie in a comic role, but she does it so well. Wouldn’t have expected anything less either, of course!
The bumbling buffoon of a vicar is exactly what you’d imagine him to be. Perhaps if you took the nervous vicar from Four Weddings and a Funeral and then had him sixteen years down the line, this is where you’d end up.
Kristin Scott Thomas … you marvellous woman, who can do just about anything. How I admire you.
Keeping Mum is darkly hilarious and it’s just the sort of comedy that Brits do oh so well. It’s fantastic. Just don’t tell this family you have to drain their pond, or that might be the last thing you ever do …
4.5 out of 5 yapping dogs.