Press clippings

A naïve vicar (Rowan Atkinson) is blissfully unaware that his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas) is falling for her golf instructor (Patrick Swayze) and that his children are up to no good. Fortunately a housekeeper (Maggie Smith) arrives to spring-clean the family in her own special way. Fun British comedy.

The Telegraph, 22nd March 2011

The ghost of Joe Orton looms large over this spirited black comedy from White Noise scriptwriter Niall Johnson. A dark British farce, it boasts a delicious performance by ]Maggie Smith as an elderly housekeeper with a deadly way of resolving domestic unrest. Hired to look after the family of Rowan Atkinson's nerdy country vicar, she quietly sets about tackling their individual problems - from his son being bullied at school to his teen daughter's nymphomania.

While her resulting Serial Mom-style solutions are often predictable, they're no less entertaining, benefiting from some neat gallows humour and an edgy sense of fun. In fact, Smith outshines all the cast with her immaculate comic timing, despite strong competition from Patrick Swayze as a sleazy US golf instructor who's romancing Atkinson's wife, Kristin Scott Thomas.

Surprisingly, the only real downside is Atkinson, whose customary bumbling schtick feels forced and twee in an otherwise boisterous affair.

Radio Times, 8th September 2008

Adapted seamlessly from its original American setting by writer/director Niall Johnson (novelist Richard Russo penned the initial script), Keeping Mum manages to be both reassuringly familiar and surprisingly fresh. Apart from the witty script, the secret to its success lies in its offbeat casting. Scott Thomas loosens her stiff upper lip and clearly relishes playing Gloria Goodfellow, a wife and mother who's thinking about playing around with a sleazy golf instructor (Swayze) and abandoning her inert husband Walter (Atkinson), the vicar of Little Wallop (don't worry, nothing else is quite so twee).

Adrian Hennigan, BBC Films, 1st December 2005

A would-be black comedy in a rural British setting, this sees vicar Walter Goodfellow (Rowan Atkinson, of course) employing a housekeeper, Grace (Maggie Smith), who just happens to be a released murderer. Equally unimaginative casting comes in the form of Kristin Scott Thomas as a foul-mouthed, frustrated wife and Patrick Swayze as a pervy American golf pro who gets the village ladies in a spin.

Grace sets about solving the Rev Goodfellow's family problems in her own unique style while the family engage in farcical sitcom banter (sometimes funny, sometimes not). It's like dumping a serial killer into a very, very long episode of The Vicar of Dibley and expecting it to work: there's no artful black comedy here, just an uncomfortable clash between broad provincial humour and a murder plotline.

The central cast are up to the job: Smith deadpans delightfully when she can, and Atkinson upgrades his bumbling Four Weddings and a Funeral performance to mildly amusing effect. But despite its genial characters, Keeping Mum is an undisciplined, ultimately unsuccessful experiment in British black comedy.

Time Out, 30th November 2005

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