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Film / Bright Young Things

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"God gave you two legs and an immortal soul in the capital city of the largest empire the world has ever seen. Are you going to spend it sucking up cocktails?"

Bright Young Things is a 2003 British drama film written and directed by Stephen Fry. The screenplay was based on the 1930 novel Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, which was in turn loosely based on and satirizing the aristocratic and bohemian society members known as the "bright young people".

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The film follows aspiring author Adam Fenwick-Symes and his fiancee Nina Blount. His novel Bright Young Things is withheld at customs for being too racy, and he finds himself in a precarious financial situation and fearing he will be unable to marry. Meanwhile, he and Nina live life as part of a young and decadent crowd who indulge in partying, alcohol, cocaine and gossip. However, things are not as carefree as they may seem at first.


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Bright Young Things contains examples of:

  • Camp Gay: Miles.
  • Driven to Suicide: Gossip columnist and former 'Mr Chatterbox' Simon Balcairn puts his head in the oven after being kicked out of the society ball of the season and calling in a libelous article about what debauchery had taken place there.
  • Drunk Driver: Agatha, who drives off with Tiger's racecar while intoxicated on Dom Perignon and cocaine.
  • Genteel Interbellum Setting
  • Gold Digger: Adam's impression of Nina when she chooses to marry an extremely wealthy 'old friend'.
  • Idle Rich: Many of the bright young people, but especially Agatha Runcible and Miles Maitland.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: As the novel on which the film is based was satirizing a real social group, many of the 'bright young people' are based on the real life bright young things. For example, Miles is loosely based on infamous gay socialite Stephen Tennant, while Simon "Mr Chatterbox" Balcairn is based on gossip writer Patrick "Mr Gossip" Balfour.
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  • Run for the Border: The final situation for Miles, who flees for France after discovering a warrant out for (presumably) homosexuality, and Ginger, who flees to America after facing smuggling charges.
  • Ruritania: One of the perpetual residents at Adam's hotel is the former King of Anatolia, who seems more upset about his pilfered gold pen than the fact that he is living in a London hotel.
  • Snowball Lie: When Adam takes over as gossip columnist, he invents a scandalous lesbian socialite named Imogen Quest, and a sinister Count Zelldorf. Suddenly half the crowd claim to be Imogen's best friend, but his boss becomes suspicious that he can't verify.
  • Tabloid Melodrama: Most of the main characters are unduly preoccupied with what the paper says about them, but never more so than when Simon writes a libelous 'tell all' about an orgy at Lady Maitland's ball.

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