December 29, 2006 -- A funny, dark British comedy about a pleasant, but mad woman who sees nothing wrong with killing unpleasant people. The film starts out with a flashback 41 years ago when a young Grace Hawkins is arrested for the murder of her husband and his mistress. She tells the police that she couldn't just stand by and let them get away with it, could she? Many years later, after Hawkins (Maggie Smith of the “Harry Potter” movies) is released from a facility for the criminally insane, she winds up as a housekeeper for the Reverend Walter Goodfellow (Rowan Atkinson of “Love Actually”) and his wife, Gloria (Kristin Scott Thomas of “Gosford Park”) and their two children, Holly and Petey (Tamsin Egerton and Toby Parkes).
Hawkins sees a family in trouble, the Reverend is a good man, but the passion has gone out of his marriage and his wife is carrying on with a handsome American golf pro, Lance (Patrick Swayze of “Point Break”), Holly is carrying on with various seedy boyfriends and Petey is getting bullied at school. Hawkins uses her ingenuity and moral flexibility to solve all the family's problems, except for the increasing number of dead bodies that need to be disposed of. Rowan Atkinson is excellent in a low-key performance and Swayze is convincingly swinish as the unscrupulous golf pro. Kristin Scott Thomas does a very nice job as the somewhat confused Gloria Goodfellow. Maggie Smith is delightfully uninhibited and unapologetic as the daft and deadly Grace Hawkins.
This film is a bit reminiscent of films like “Saving Grace” and “Calendar Girls,” but is funnier and less pretentious than either of them. This is in the best tradition of English comedy. It has all the edge, darkness and wit one expects from this storied genre. This film rates a B.
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