‘Keeping Mum’ movie review
By JP, Columnist
2005’s Keeping Mum is a British dark comedy about a nanny who comes to help a troubled family by violently eliminating the sources of their conflict, and encourages positive behaviour changes in the way only British nannies know how to do. However, there is no magic at play here, besides the odd comedic moment in a reasonably entertaining, well-paced, and well-acted film.
The film is set in the sleepy British town of Little Wallop, where the vicar Goodfellow, played by experienced bumbler Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), is completely oblivious to the dissatisfaction of his wife, the nymphomania of his daughter, and the low self-esteem of his son. Enter Grace Hawkins, an old nanny whose arrival brings about the miraculous silencing of the neighbour’s barking dog, and other such miracles follow. However, it becomes apparent to the viewer, and later to members of the family, that the sudden disappearance of the neighbour’s dog, and then of its owner, are the result of nanny-committed murder.
It is difficult to pinpoint a best moment in the film, since none of the set-pieces truly thrive. Watching the killer nanny hurt the young son’s bullies by cutting their bike brakes isn’t so much hilarious as it is almost oddly satisfying.
The cast of this comedy is certainly one of its strong suits. Needless to say, Maggie Smith kills it (pun intended) as the doting nanny who helps the family solve its issues. You suspect something is up early on with her scheming looks, which become more pronounced as the extent of her criminality becomes more explicit. The female cast is rounded out with Kristin Scott Thomas as the neglected wife and Tamsin Egerton as the daughter. The third act presents an entertaining twist or two, which shows the women of the family coming together to deal with the threats they face.
With the male cast, Atkinson sells the clueless vicar, and if anyone has seen Atkinson’s “devil sketch” (highly recommended), this performance comes across as entertainingly ironic. Patrick Swayze plays a horny American golf instructor who is eagerly trying to seduce the vicar’s wife. Almost every word of dialogue he speaks is loaded with innuendo. It’s fairly amusing to see Swayze play something of an exaggerated parody of characters from his younger days.
Keeping Mum is a perfect comedy for those with a dark sense of humour, and perhaps for up-and-coming psychopaths. Great British comedy acting, and one intentionally ridiculous American performance, make for a well-paced—if fairly mediocre—comedy.