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The Importance of Being Earnest

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Oliver Parker
Produced by David Brown
Uri Fruchtmann
Barnaby Thompson
Written by Julian Fellowes
Starring Colin Firth
Rupert Everett
Reese Witherspoon
Judi Dench
Frances O'Connor
Music by Charlie Mole
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date(s) May 17, 2002
Running time 97 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Importance of Being Earnest is a 2002 film directed by Oliver Parker, based on Oscar Wilde's classic comedy of manners play The Importance of Being Earnest. The original music score is composed by Charlie Mole. The movie grossed about $8.3 million.[1]



The plot revolves around two men in Edwardian England, John (Jack) Worthing and Algernon (Algy) Moncrieff. Whenever Jack travels to London from his Hertfordshire estate he says he is going to see his (fictitious) wayward brother Ernest. Once in London he keeps his privacy by calling himself Ernest. This tactic is especially important as his beloved, Gwendolen, declares that she could only love a man named Ernest. Her cousin, Algy, is the one person who knows Jack's secret and one day he travels down to the estate, announcing himself to Jack's attractive ward Cecily as the infamous Ernest. Cecily is enamoured with him and his name, and upon Jack's return home and Gwendolen's unexpected arrival it becomes clear there are both too many and too few Ernests earnestly courting.

Awards and nominations

The film won the 2003 Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists's Silver Ribbon award for Best Costume Design, the movie's costumes being designed by Maurizio Millenotti.

Reese Witherspoon was nominated for a Teen Choice Award (Choice Actress - Comedy) for her performance as Cecily.


Production notes

  • Actress Finty Williams, who plays Lady Bracknell as a young dancer, is the daughter of Dame Judi Dench, who plays the older Lady Bracknell.
  • The scenes where Rupert Everett slaps Colin Firth on his rear end and where Everett kisses Firth's cheek were ad libbed. Director Oliver Parker thought Firth's stunned reaction was so humorous he decided to leave it in.
  • The business with 'Earnest's' bill at the Savoy, and with the money collectors coming to Jack's country home, are taken from material Wilde cut from the play prior to its publication.
  • Though cut from the revised version, the gardener Molton can be seen in the background of many scenes.
  • The producers of the film paid £50,000 to use West Wycombe Park as Jack's home in the country.[citation needed]


External links

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