Keeping Mum


Quaint. English. And a little bit naughty.

That pretty much sums up Keeping Mum, the latest in a long line of films comprising a title of verb/noun pairings, although at least this time around we can chuckle at the double meaning (while we mourn the absence of alliteration).

Keeping MumKristin Scott Thomas, Rowan Atkinson and Maggie Smith headline this terribly disappointing feature, and all deliver fine performances indeed. Atkinson (Love Actually) stands out in particular, mainly because he is playing it straight. His speeches as the Reverend Goodfellow are great, and one particular reading from the Bible makes pretty much the only original and inventive sequence in the film. (I can almost imagine that he’ll soon be relegated to appearing in insightful post middle-age crisis films in the same way that Bill Murray has in the last few years.) Smith (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) could play this role with her eyes shut, and in fact has nothing much asked of her other than to be a concurrently cute and ruthless elderly murderer. Scott Thomas is fine, though unfortunately gets the unsatisfactory job of occasionally spelling out the narrative for the audience.

The main flaw in Keeping Mum is that the premise never really goes anywhere. All the information was contained within the trailer, and in fact the audience have worked out what’s going to happen well before the players do. (It is rather reminiscent of watching the exceedingly mediocre Mr. & Mrs. Smith, in which the viewers were light years ahead of the characters.) Then, to make matters worse, there is no final act – no climax to speak of and no conclusion. It just tapers off weakly, grasping at unlikely leaps of faith in the hopes of finishing on a cheap laugh.

The majority of the audience (which were much older than myself) did enjoy this film, however even the most amused were anticipating upcoming lines out loud.

I feel dirty because I realise I rated Underworld: Evolution slightly higher than this film, but then again the former did include a beginning, middle and end. Keeping Mum would have been vastly more entertaining had it featured more than a simple premise. Get out an old copy of Arsenic and Old Lace instead of watching this disappointment.

Rating: 1.5 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 2nd February 2006
Hoopla Factor: 2.5 stars

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