Just saw this at the movies. My daughter and I were still talking about it all the way home and revisiting the outrageously funny scenes. I noticed others walking home were talking about it too. To me that's the indicator of a well-enjoyed black comedy. Maggie Smith is, as usual, at her finest and reminded me of Gosford Park with her dry wit.
I won't spoil the suprise ending but will say this movies is a fabulous mass of contadictions which won't seem suprising until the end. It has the dicotomy of a Mary Poppins like figure (the hired housekeeper) who "fixes" the family, but who the audience knows is also a notorious "trunk murderess" who has just been released from an institute for the criminally insane. The family, of course, do not know making the audience co-conspiritors in the outrageously funny movie.
A special treat is the constant play on words (as a scholar and a writer myself I had a blast picking them all out and I'm happy to report I missed a couple until my daughter and I reviewed it coming home. The name of the little British village is Little Wallop (population 57) means nothing until you see the behaviour of the nanny/housekeeper. Even the title is a play on words encompasing the whole film.
The Brits have black comedy down to an art compared to Hollywood although I must admit Grose Point Blank is a fine American effort but this one has Bandits beat and i own both. I plan to own "Keeping Mum" soon. By the way, speaking of Americans, Patrick Swayze is in it as the lecherous lover and camps it up to perfection. All the other actors are British and famous in their own right. It took me a few minutes to realize the vicor was The Black Adder in disguise. I forget the name of the actor but his transformation from cardboard figure to dynamic man thanks to the intervention of the housekeeper demonstrates his acting ability. He is believable in both roles and his transformation is phenomenal.
I seldom buy comedies because after the first watch they lose their punch but this one is so intricate (like Gosford Park) that it needs to be watched more than once to "get it." It, however, has none of the drama or class commentary of Gosford Park or the social commentary of gender identification like Kinky boots. Keeping Mum is a true black comedy with an amazing play on words set in the middle class world of a small English village. The scenery reminded me of some of the small towns of central England and the church, the centre of town rather than a pub, is typical of every English village.
If you are a fan of black comedy, British dry wit, crossword puzzles or other word games, sex done as only the British can portray it -- tastefully hilarious (this is not body humor and farts are not funny) -- this is the movie for you. It's great fun! I guarantee you'll "die laughing" as the story unfolds and the characters develop. You'll never guess the near to the end suprise, the ending itself was predictable but so funny who cares. Go find out for yourself, I'm keeping mum.