Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. United Kingdom, 2007. Ealing Studios, Entertainment Film Distributors, Fragile Films, UK Film Council. Screenplay by Piers Ashworth, Nick Moorcroft, additional material by Jamie Minoprio, Jonathan M. Stern, based on cartoons by Ronald Searle. Cinematography by Gavin Finney. Produced by Oliver Parker, Barnaby Thompson. Music by Charlie Mole. Production Design by Amanda McArthur. Costume Design by Rebecca Hale, Penny Rose. Film Editing by Alex Mackie.
Ronald Searle’s darkly funny comic panels, which inspired a slew of films in the sixties, have been resurrected in the form of this empty comedy. It is set at a girls’ boarding school beleaguered by bad management and even worse students, where young Talulah Riley is taken to live by her irresponsible father (Rupert Everett) whose sister (also Everett, terrible in drag) runs the place. She undergoes a few trials with girls who, when they are not disrespectful, are downright dangerous, before finding her niche among them, which is good because that coincides with the moment that the school’s very existence is being threatened by an ambitious politician (Colin Firth) who wants to shut them down. The solution is money, which the girls decide to raise by stealing Vermeer’s famous Girl With A Pearl Earring while a number of students compete in a quiz show in the museum. Unintelligent writing, poor direction and a group of famous British actors who are soullessly collecting their paycheques on their way out the door make for unmitigated trash, the kind of thing you could barely stand to watch even if it was the only option on an airplane.