June 23, 2009

Bright Young Things (2003)

I'm sorry for the lack of posts lately. This is what happens when you're stuck in a small town and the recent storms have knocked out your local internet service. But I think things are somewhat back to normal now so I can return to bombarding you with beautiful images of beautiful people from beautiful films. Hurrah!
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Bright Young Things is Stephen Fry's screen adaptation (and I stress "adaptation" since the endings are very different) from Evelyn Waugh's 1930 novel Vile Bodies. It takes place during 1930s London and revolves around the decadent, cocaine-fueled lives of the young social elite. It's party party party fun fun fun all the time.



The film is visually breathtaking and these elaborate costume balls really do look like they'd be loads of fun to attend!




Stephen Fry stayed true to the disjointed style of the Evelyn Waugh's novel by making the film just as structurally fragmented, which, if you haven't read the book, might prove to be a formidable task to follow. But there is a story in there somewhere and it centers mainly around a young aspiring writer Adam (Stephen Campbell Moore, whom I've been smitten with since The History Boys) and his attempts to secure enough money to marry his longtime girlfriend Nina (Emily Mortimer). It's kind of a romantic comedy but then again, it's really not. In the meantime, there's a lot of partying, cocaine snorting, and fun outings to the racetracks with their absolutely hilarious and totally scene stealing group of friends, namely Miles (Michael Sheen) and Agatha (Fenella Woolgar).

below: Stephen Campbell Moore as Adam. Loving - the yellow check scarf and the green tie combo.

below: Emily Mortimer as Adam's girlfriend Nina. Loving - her jade-like green drop earrings.

below: the happy couple at the racetracks. Loving - his loud yellow sweater vest and her classic brown checked blazer with the pin on the lapel.


below: Loving - the fur coat and the burgundy wrist-length gloves.

below: my two favorite supporting characters, Miles and Agatha. Loving - her tendency to wear masculine clothes, her yellow tie and tweed pant suit and his matching yellow vest and luxurious camel colored wool coat. Seriously, that coat looked amazing on screen. These images don't do it justice.

Yes, Agatha wears suits a lot. Here she is in a tux.

Loving - the beret, dark sunglasses, and black & white checked blazer over the heavy cream cable knit sweater.

Loving - Agatha's cool, chic ensemble. The leather jacket, shirt, and tie may appear masculine at first but the pink scarf and the black+white striped gloves give it that feminine touch.

below: Miles' lover/race car driver. Loving - the pairing of dark gray tweeds with the hunter green cap.

Here are a few other notable characters who pop in and out of the fragmented storyline. A delicious James McAvoy makes a short-lived appearance as the young Lord Balcairn, gossip columnist for a local newspaper.

David Tennant (of Dr. Who fame) has plays a part as well. Loving - his ivory pipe!

below: I forgot who she is but she throws a big party in the movie. Loving - her necklace with the large red beads.

below: one-armed driver. I posted this image because I liked how his empty sleeve is pinned against his chest, which is a much better alternative than letting it hang loose.

Oh yeah, Stockard Channing also has a small role as the director for a traveling girls' choir. Doesn't she look fabulous in the salmon colored dress suit with that opulent white fur trim?!



Now we move onto some of the interior sets:

Nina's eccentric father - Colonel Blount - is played by the legendary Peter O'Toole. His on-screen time is not very long but what a memorable character he created! Below is the exterior to his mammoth country manor.

Loving his little red hat and the gray robe stuffed with the front pocket stuffed with tissues. How delightful and eccentric. And lest you thought he wasn't properly dressed, notice his shirt and tie underneath! Also - loving the collection of curiosities cluttering the interior of his house. Notice the giant horn.

The Colonel tells young Adam to hang his coat on that dragon statue to the left.

below: Notice the Tiger's head almost completely buried under that clutter of books.

Another shot of the mess cluttered on the long table in his study.

Novacheck blanket casually thrown on the back of a broken chair.

Another interesting interior set is Nina's glamourous apartment. It's done up in mostly soft creams and lavenders.

Notice the large shimmery wall piece by the front entry. It looks like small mosaic tiles strung/glued together. Love.

Loving - the silver telephone and her silk embroidered robe.

Here's another shot of the robe, with a slightly better view of the embroidery details.

And this is kind of random but below is a shot of the a grand hall in preparations for a big party. I wanted to show the massive floral hanging fixtures because I think they're amazing.

Overall Bright Young Things was an enjoyable film but it wasn't without flaws. I think some of the actors were miscast. I understand that it's tremendously difficult to convey the depth of Waugh's writing into something visibly tangible but I just feel like the witty, detached, reckless nonchalance of the characters were all too apparently forced. (This doesn't apply to Woolgar and Sheen, who were both perfect). It's not particularly a long movie (ringing in about 1.5hrs) but for some reason it felt a bit long, especially toward the end when the characters' lives begin to fall apart. And speaking of falling apart, a lot of events weren't made clear unless you've read the book or you're knowledgeable about the laws of the period. And then, of course, there's fragmented structure of the whole thing, which can get a bit disorienting. But visually - what a feast!! And that's the main reason why I decided to post about it to begin with.


Love the mosaic wall piece - have to figure out a way to replicate that. I have the perfect spot for it.

I am just captivated by your posts! Please keep going!

The book was better..i like how it ended in a parallel-universish apocalyptic war--more fun than just WW2..but the clothes!!!! creative anachronism all the way

@Anshika - I haven't read the book (I really should!) but yeah, the movie was sort of blah but who cares when the clothes was THAT GORGEOUS!!

sorry to bother you
I want to know
Are these all from DVD you bought?
I want to collect one DVD
but I don't know which has the highest resolution version
Would you kindly give me some advice on this


@Akashi Hi there! Yes, most of these screencaps were grabbed from my own DVDs. As for which version of Bright Young Things, I think the top two choices are the same. I don't think the movie was offered in more than one resolution (as in, I don't think there is a blu-ray version). And both are also in Widescreen. The 3rd one on the list is encoded for Region 2 so just check that you selecting the correct format for your location. Hope this helps!

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