Keeping MumKeeping Mum is a charmingly sweet story cleverly wrapped in a black comedy, with a dark plot about murder and strong undertones of family love and responsibility. Director and screenwriter Niall Johnson manages to pull it all together in a delightful way that will leave most audience members glad they watched, especially once they realize the pun in the title. 

The film starts out 43 years ago on a train. We’re introduced to Rosie Jones (a charming Emilia Fox), a smiling, gentle, very pregnant young lady… with a trunk in the train’s storage compartment that is seeping blood. When she’s turned in to the by the police by a suspicious porter she freely admits that her husband and his lover, or at least the remaining pieces of them, are in the trunk. When one officer asks why she did it, she casually responds “Well, I couldn’t very well sit idly by, could I?” Cut to a courtroom where a judge locks her away in an insane asylum.

The audience is then introduced to the Goodfellow family (present day) and the rural English village of Little Wallop. Walter Goodfellow, the town vicar (subtly played by Rowan Atkinson of Mr. Bean fame), is so caught up in his sermons and the nagging members of his congregation that his home life is slipping away from him. His wife Gloria (the brilliant Kristin Scott Thomas) is having an affair with her golf instructor (Patrick Swayze in a hilarious role that feels like it was written just for him), his daughter Holly is coming home with a different boyfriend every other day, and his son is getting bullied at school. Enter Grace Hawkins.

Maggie Smith enters the scene as a renamed, aged Rosie Jones, who believes the best way to solve your problems is to get rid of them, literally. In a slightly twisted, darkly hilarious version of Mary Poppins, Maggie Smith comes to the Goodfellow family as a maid and nanny and in her own way starts to straighten things up. Her antics may be a tad outlandish, but in their own strange way, they’re just what the Goodfellow family needs: a touch of Grace.

The acting is top knotch, the humor is decidedly British and dark, and every joke delivers. Patrick Swayze really stands out in a cast of Brits as the libidinized Texas golf instructor trying to seduce the vicar’s wife and spy on the vicar’s daughter. Throwing himself into the role with reckless abandon shows Swayze’s comedic timing and adds an extra layer to the British humor.

The DVD includes several special features, including feature commentary by the director, a rather dry blooper reel, quite a few deleted scenes (I mean “bonus” scenes), and an extended scene of Rowan Atkinson as a soccer goalie that may be the funniest part of the DVD. Keeping Mum is an all around great experience.

For more information and to view the trailer, visit the official movie site

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