Bright Young Things

Evelyn Waugh's satirical novel Vile Bodies seems like a natural property for Stephen Fry, an urbane actor (Gosford Park) and singular wit with his own burgeoning literary career, but under his direction this 2003 British feature becomes a flat, depressing affair. Its central characters, the financially strapped vanguard of the Jazz Age, are too well connected to be bohemians but flaunt convention as they veer drunkenly from private gaiety to public notoriety. Endlessly chronicled by the local gossip sheets, they're more self-involved than self-aware, unprepared for the suicide, madness, scandal, and war that shatter their glittering circle; if only they'd learned to transmute their personal tragedies into cold, hard cash like today's media-savvy swells. R, 106 min.

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