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This film, based on a Noel Coward play, stars Julie Andrews, as Lady Felicity Marshwood, who is upset to learn that her son, Lord Nigel (Edward Atterton) is engaged to be married to Hollywood film star Miranda Frayle (Jeanne Tripplehorn).  However, the situation soon becomes even more complicated when Nigel plans to bring Miranda to meet his aristocratic family, only for the family’s maid Moxie (Sophie Thompson), to announce that Miranda is in fact her sister!  Throw in Miranda’s co-star and former lover Don Lucas (William Baldwin) who is coming to England to try and stop the marriage, and Colin Firth and Stephen Fry as respectively Nigel’s cousin Peter, and the family butler Crestwell, and the stage is set for a fine comedy!

I loved this film – it did remind me somewhat of another Noel Coward adaptation – Easy Virtue, which like Relative Values, also starred Colin Firth, and which also featured the son of an upper-crust English family bringing his vivacious American girlfriend to meet his relatives, but the films play out quite differently (I loved easy Virtue too).

All the cast were excellent – in particular, Thompson, Andrews and Firth.  Stephen Fry was playing a role which could have been written for him, and although he is one of the supporting rather than main cast members, he certainly makes the most of his screen time.  Baldwin is also very funny as the often drunk Lucas, who throws a spanner in the works of Miranda’s plan to transform herself from a starlet to a Lady of the Manor.  And Moxie, who is transformed from a maid, into a wealthy family friend (so that Miranda won’t recognise her) is the centre of one of the funniest scenes, when Moxie gets drunk to try and overcome her fear at meeting her sister who she hasn’t seen for some 20 years.  Colin Firth is just adorable as Peter – it could have been a nothing role in the wrong actor’s hands, but Firth is perfect.

The plot itself is rather daft – why didn’t they just tell Miranda that her sister was working for the family, rather than try and cover up the fact (and surely Miranda would have recognised her own sister!), but I think that it’s just something that you need to go with, accept, and enjoy.  Overall, this was a very funny and hugely delightful film.  At just under one and a half hours, it never gets boring, the cast is top-notch, and I would certainly recommend it.

Year of release: 2000

Director: Eric Styles

Producers: Steve Christian, Alex Harakis, Chris Harris, Fabio Chino Quaradeghini, Francesca Barra, Maud Nadler, Alex Swan, Christopher Milburn, Paul Rattigan, Michael Walker

Writers: Noel Coward (play), Paul Rattigan, Michael Walker

Main cast: Julie Andrews, Sophie Thompson, Colin Firth, William Baldwin, Edward Atterton, Stephen Fry, Jeanne Tripplehorn

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