Keeping Mum

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2 stars
This is one of those quirky British film comedies, actually a bit quirkier than most.

The Reverend Walter Goodfellow (Rowan Atkinson) is the Vicar of the tiny village of Little Wallop. He is a good man, but rather dreamy and unobservant. Among the things that he has failed to observe are that his son is being bullied in school, his daughter is sleeping around and his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas) is thinking about running off to Mexico with her sleazy American golf instructor (Patrick Swayze).

Obviously this family needs help, and what could be more helpful than a cheerful, competent, wise old housekeeper (Maggie Smith) who will show up one day and gently show them how to solve all of their problems.

This sounds pretty conventional but there is a twist, a rather nasty twist which I won’t spell out because the producers obviously want it kept a secret (even though they reveal it at the very beginning of the movie.)

This is in many ways an excellent film with a first-rate cast, full of that wonderful dry British wit. However for me that “twist” is a killer and it kept me from enjoying the movie. I know it’s a joke; I know it’s supposed to be really hilarious, but I guess I just don’t happen to have the capacity to find that particular joke funny.

Other people may well have a different reaction. (My daughter saw it with me and enjoyed it very much.) The only advice I can offer is to think of the words “black comedy” and consider how you have reacted to other movies described that way. Also, don’t take children to see it; this is one “R” rating that should be respected.