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"I used to think being an orphan was a bad thing."

directed by Niall Johnson

written by Richard Russo and Niall Johnson

    The Reverend Walter Goodfellow (Rowan Atkinson) is the dedicated and respected but clumsy and forgetful vicar of the village of Little Wallop. His unhappy wife Gloria (Kristin Scott Thomas) complains that since he found God he has lost his sense of humor but seems more seriously troubled by his loss of libido. She is coping with his lack of interest in sex by having an affair with the local golf pro (Patrick Swayze). His daughter Holly (Tamsin Egerton) is having sex with a series of boyfriends, each a more disturbing type than his predecessor. And his son Peter (Toby Parkes) is the victim of bullying at school.

    Then his new housekeeper, Grace Hawkins (Maggie Smith), arrives on the scene. Things start to improve. And people start to disappear. And Gloria learns some surprising things about her heritage.

    The plot is hilarious. The characters are fascinating. The performances are all superb. Rowan Atkinson's excellent performance is constrained and subtle in contrast to his more familiar roles as Mr. Bean or Lord Blackadder. Patrick Swayze is hilarious as the sleazily lecherous golf instructor. Kristin Scott Thomas makes her character thoroughly sympathetic however much you might deplore her choices. But best of all is Maggie Smith, doing what she does so well -- pulling off hilarious lines with an entirely straight face.

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Gloria: "You can't just go 'round killing people just because you don't approve of them!"
Grace: "You know, that's what my doctors used to say. It was the one point we could never agree on."