Jessica Biel in 'Easy Virtue' (left) and 'Powder Blue' (right)

In this day and age, why can't someone be both? Jessica Biel's dramatic turn as a stripper in Timothy Linh Bui's Powder Blue, which just hit DVD and Blu-ray, has been competing for attention with the theatrical release of Stephen Elliott's Easy Virtue, which opened in New York and Los Angeles before expanding this weekend. Throw in the tempest in a teacup about her interview with Allure Magazine, in which the actress was quoted as complaining that her beauty was causing her to miss out on more serious roles that instead went to Natalie Portman or Scarlett Johansson, and it may be hard to know what to think of the actress.

I don't know if the Allure quotes are accurate are not, taken out of context or completely made up, but watching her in Easy Virtue made me forget all the career stuff and gossip and get caught up with the characters and the story. That's not something I expected from a period piece based on a play by Noël Coward. Biel plays Larita, an American race car driver from Detroit who marries the young, very British John Whittaker (Ben Barnes) after a whirlwind romance. John takes her home to meet his very proper mother (Kristin Scott Thomas), his remote yet welcoming father (Colin Firth), and his two flighty sisters (Kimberly Nixon and Katherine Parkinson).

It wouldn't be fair to say that Biel steals this very funny film (with a more serious streak that's gradually revealed). For one thing, Firth is exquisitely good; for another, Elliot's direction is quite engaging. Still, Biel is something of a minor marvel in the role.

categories Cinematical