In the Dark

Dim Young Things

Bright Young Things
Produced by Doubting Hall Limited
Written and directed by Stephen Fry from Evelyn Waugh’s novel Vile Bodies
Distributed by Icon Film Distribution and Think Film, Inc.

Stephen Fry’s Bright Young Things is a vibrant, hectic, but finally disappointing adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s second novel, Vile Bodies (1930).  Although Fry has assembled an extremely talented and willing cast and has directed with energy and obvious admiration for Waugh, he fails on two counts: theme and style.

Fry seems to misunderstand, perhaps willfully, Waugh’s satiric purpose.  This is signaled by the title change.  He has chosen to rename the narrative with Waugh’s mocking sobriquet for the privileged, well-educated, and fatally frivolous young people who populate his elegantly dizzy novel.  The new title suggests a gossipy story of foolish, misspent youth.  Waugh certainly had this in mind, but he was also after something considerably deeper, darker, and, paradoxically, more hopeful.  He took his title from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, which chastises those “whose end is destruction,” whose “god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” and then directs us to “look to the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our...

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