Hilarious, wholesome, and oddly effective, Keeping Mum is my type of black comedy. Unfolding at a brisk pace, the story is deceptively simple and you’ll miss some of its delightful subtlety in the first run. However, you shouldn’t worry as this is one of those movies you’ll keep coming back to. You gotta hand it to the British, they really know how to make great mainstream black comedies. There are several things that you can be certain will happen: the cast will be phenomenal, the script will be edgy but not too edgy or disruptive, atmosphere and pacing will be spot-on. And finally, the story as a whole will work on many levels.
We will be following one clueless pastor whose family is slowly falling apart. And then things get even more tricky as a stranger enters their home. Starring a comedic genius Rowan Atkinson, who alone could carry this movie, Keeping Mum features a long list of great actors. We have the legend that is Maggie Smith, dependable Kristin Scott Thomas, and swagadocious Patrick Swayze. They were all so natural and easily relatable that you felt like you were watching the finale of your favorite comedy tv show. Something where you already know the characters and the story but are still laughing your ass off.
Keeping Mum casually explores some pretty heavy issues. I’m talking about topics like how to deal with the death of a loved one, bullying, midlife crises, and many, many more. And since the main character is a pastor, they all get this strange, almost supernatural dimension. And don’t worry, this is just a neat gimmick, there won’t be anything controversial here. Moreover, I have to say that as an atheist I thoroughly enjoyed this lighthearted black comedy. Although I could go on and on about its enforcement of traditional values but I won’t.
Meet Walter Goodfellow, a vicar living in the village of Little Wallop. Married and with two kids, he’s quite busy most of the time. These days he’s perfecting his sermon that he wants to be fucking poppin’. Meanwhile, his wife and kids are having problems of their own. It feels like there’s something missing, so when new housekeeper Grace starts her new job things will start falling into place…
Keeping Mum is one of those movies that you can play at almost any time and in front of everybody. It’s simply universally good and you would rarely find a person who would not like it or find it too black or edgy. However, if you’re expecting severed limbs and sexual references, you will not find them here, it’s not that type of black comedy. Heartwarming and cute, Keeping Mum will steal your heart. I already mentioned atmosphere and pacing, but I have to mention them again because this is the case with so many great British movies.
They transport you to this quiet English countryside where everything seems slower and more relaxed. You see how people are living, and what things are bothering them. And usually, these are things that also bother people from all over the world so you get this feeling of unity. I also wanted to mention the fact that Rowan’s performance here was pretty subdued. Especially when compared to some of his earlier projects like Mr. Bean and Black Adder.
Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Keeping Mum, I recommend you start with Death at a Funeral. Yes, that truly black comedy is as funny as its title suggests. Then you can move on to other English comedies like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Nuns on the Run, and Fierce Creatures.
Director: Niall Johnson
Writers: Richard Russo, Niall Johnson
Cast: Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, Patrick Swayze
Fun Stuff: The role he had in Keeping Mum was one of Patrick Swayze’s last. And he was freaking awesome here!
IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0444653/