Easy Virtue

image for Easy Virtue

Short takes

Lacks interest under 13 and shows frequent smoking

classification logo

This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Easy Virtue
  • a review of Easy Virtue completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 12 March 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to lack of interest and frequent scenes of smoking
Children 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to frequent scenes of smoking
Children over 15 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Easy Virtue
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild sexual references
Length: 93 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Easy Virtue is set in pre-war 1930s England. When John Whittaker (Ben Barnes) brings his glamorous American wife Larita (Jessica Biel) home to meet his family, he’s quite unprepared for their reaction. Larita is a fast and fun loving person who instantly clashes with her overbearing, stuffy, upper-class mother-in-law, Veronica Whittaker (Kristen Scott Thomas).
‘Easy virtue’ is what Mrs. Whittaker accuses her new daughter-in-law of having when she discovers she’s been married previously and has a somewhat shady past. Mrs. Whittaker and her two equally obnoxious daughters set out to undermine and humiliate Larita who has to rely on her own cunning to stand up to these women and play them at their own game.

Larita finds an unlikely ally in Mr. Jim Whittaker (Colin Firth) who has failed to come to terms with the futility of his involvement in the First World War, and war in general. Jim has consequently withdrawn from life and his demanding wife and daughters. He finds a kindred spirit in Larita and encourages her in her opposition to the family and their judgemental upper class values.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Assisted suicide (minor theme)

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • tennis balls are thrown at players
  • Larita accidentally sits on the family’s beloved pet dog and kills it (not actually shown)
  • scenes of a fox hunt

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, including the following:

  • A fox is shown caught in a trap

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Apart from the above mentioned scenes, there is nothing in this movie that is likely to scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • John and Larita are shown in bed kissing passionately and partly undressing
  • One of the sisters dances the Cancan with Larita at a concert, without wearing any knickers – she bares her bottom.
  • Veronica Whittaker discovers John and Larita in bed, with no clothes on but mostly covered.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • alcohol drinking at home
  • smoking throughout the film

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

Easy Virtue is a romantic comedy that excellently captures the atmosphere of 1930s England. The story is told with some superb acting, particularly by Kristin Scott Thomas. It is aimed at an adult audience and lacks interest for children
The main messages from this movie are not to make instant judgements about people and to listen to the whole story before forming opinions.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • courage
  • assertiveness
  • strength of character

The movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as

  • how judgemental and nasty behaviours embitter people
  • the issue of  assisted suicide which is touched on by the story