Exactly the sort of coy, patronizing pap you'd imagine actors like Kristin Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith take merely to pay debts or mortgages, Keeping Mum involves a country vicar (Rowan Atkinson), his sexually frustrated wife (Thomas, pining for Atkinson's attention), and a dotty busybody maid (Smith) who seems to solve the family's various problems with just a twinkle of her watery eye. If the exquisite, heather-thatch-and-old-churchyard-village ambiance doesn't assail your blood sugar, Dickon Hinchliffe's non-stop, abusively rosy-cheeked soundtrack will. (It seems perpetually on the verge of bursting into "Que Sera Sera.") But -- and this is where I imagine Richard Russo's original story comes in -- we know thanks to an opening flashback that Smith's coot is actually a quiet sociopathic husband-killer, and the bodies begin to primly drop. (One of them, thank Christ, is Patrick Swayze, as a seductive-lech golf pro jeopardizing the family's struggling equilibrium.) Obvious, simplistic, and never funny, Niall Johnson's movie may be useful only as real-estate porn -- Cornwall and the Isle of Man never looked so super-cute.
Niall JohnsonRowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, Patrick Swayze, Emilia Fox, Liz Smith, Tamsin Egerton, James Booth, Toby Parkes, Jack RyanNiall Johnson, Richard RussoJulia Palau, Matthew PayneThinkFilm