Keeping Mum

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Keeping Mum
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Niall Johnson
Produced by Julia Palau
Matthew Payne
Written by Niall Johnson
Richard Russo
Starring Rowan Atkinson
Maggie Smith
Kristin Scott Thomas
Tamsin Egerton
Patrick Swayze
Emilia Fox
Music by Dickon Hinchliffe
Edited by Robin Sales
Isle of Man Film
Azure Films
Tusk Productions
Distributed by THINKFilm
Summit Entertainment
Release date
  • 2 December 2005 (2005-12-02)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $18,575,768[1]

Keeping Mum is a 2005 British black comedy film starring Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith and Patrick Swayze.


In the opening scene, as young pregnant Rosie Jones (Emilia Fox) rides on a train, her very large suitcase starts leaking blood. When questioned by the police about the two dismembered bodies found inside, she calmly reveals that they are of her unfaithful husband and his mistress. She is then sentenced by the judge (Roger Hammond) to a secure unit for the criminally insane for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Forty-three years later, in the village of Little Wallop, Walter Goodfellow, the vicar (Rowan Atkinson) is very busy writing the perfect sermon for a convention, having no idea about the problems in his house. They include the unfulfilled emotional needs of his wife Gloria, (Kristin Scott Thomas) who subsequently starts an affair with her golf instructor, Lance (Patrick Swayze); the sexual desires and growing maturity of his teenage daughter, Holly (Tamsin Egerton) who is constantly finding new boyfriends; and son, Petey (Toby Parkes) who is being bullied at school. Then, everything changes with the arrival of the new housekeeper, Grace (Maggie Smith).

Grace becomes entrenched in the life of the family and begins to learn about the problems in the house: the neighbour, Mr. Brown's dog Jack Russell terrier, Clarence, who consistently disturbs Gloria's sleep by his nuisance barking; the bullying of Petey; and Gloria and Lance's affair. Grace commits to solving the problems in her own way.

She kills Clarence, and when Mr. Brown finds out that his dog has been murdered (after long assuming he had run off), she kills him, too. She sabotages the brakes on the bullies' bicycles, injuring one of them, thereby making Petey very happy. After catching the golf instructor outside the house videotaping Holly undressing one night, she kills him with an iron.

While Walter is preparing his sermon for the conference, Grace introduces him to humour and suggests adding it to his preaching method. Further, she discovers that he has let his relationship with his wife slide on account of his devotion to God, and she teaches him that he can love his wife as well as God by drawing his attention to the erotic references in the Song of Solomon. As the problems in the household seem to gradually clear, Walter leaves for his convention.

Grace’s habits are discovered when Gloria and Holly see her picture on television in a news story mentioning her release and previous offences. It is then that Grace reveals that she is Gloria's long-lost mother, Rosie Jones, explaining why she came to Little Wallop in the first place[further explanation needed]. After briefly processing the influx of information, Gloria argues and attempts to explain that when having a problem with someone, one cannot just kill them. Grace remarks that this is the one thing she and her doctors could never agree on. Despite their disagreements, Gloria tries to help Grace with Lance's body, but cannot handle it. Over a cup of tea, the three women decide not to tell Walter or Petey any of what has happened.

When nagging congregant, Mrs. Parker (Liz Smith) comes over to discuss the problem of the “church flower arranging committee”, Grace, under the false (and likely paranoia-induced) impression that Mrs. Parker is about to turn them in for their crimes, attempts to hit her over the head with a frying pan, but is prevented by Gloria. Mrs. Parker, shocked by the attempt to murder her, has a heart attack and dies. Walter returns from the convention just then and sees Mrs. Parker's body, but doesn't realise she is dead. Soon after this, Grace leaves the family when order is seemingly restored among the family.

At the end of the film, Walter talks to Bob and Ted, the water works employees, about the pond at the Vicar's house. They say that there is too much algae and the pond needs to be drained. Remembering that Grace has disposed of her victims in the pond, Gloria, with a disturbingly cheerful expression, offers the two men some tea. The film closes with an underwater shot depicting the bodies that had been placed in the pond, including the recently added bodies of Bob and Ted.



Filming began in February 2005. The main filming location was in the village of St Michael Penkevil in Cornwall. Locations on the Isle of Man were used for all filming outside the village. The outer shots of the train is on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, the scene with the car going over a small bridge with the train going over another is just outside Goathland (Aidensfield in Heartbeat).


Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 56% of critics gave the film positive write ups, based on 85 reviews. At the similar website Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to each review, the film has received an average score of 53, based on 22 reviews. When the film was originally released in the United Kingdom, it opened on #4, behind Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Flightplan.[2] It regained the spot the next weekend.[3]


  1. ^ "Keeping Mum at Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  2. ^ "Weekend box office 2nd December 2005 – 4th December 2005". Retrieved 27 April 2017. 
  3. ^ "Weekend box office 9th December 2005 – 11th December 2005". Retrieved 27 April 2017. 

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