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Overall Rating

Awesome: 21.95%
Worth A Look42.28%
Average: 10.57%
Pretty Bad: 10.57%
Total Crap: 14.63%

5 reviews, 93 user ratings

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Gosford Park
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by EricDSnider

"Agatha, Altman. Altman, Agatha."
4 stars

Robert Altman’s penchant for huge casts, subtle satire, and slowly panning cameras that catch snippets of many conversations is brought to bear in his latest film, the whodunit social commentary “Gosford Park.”

It is 1932, and Sir William (Michael Gambon) and his wife Lady Sylvia (Kristin Scott Thomas) are hosting a hunting party. All the fancy-pants Brits are coming, accompanied by their personal maids and valets, which leads to two distinct settings: upstairs at the house, where the guests are; and downstairs, where the servants live. The bluebloods rarely find themselves subterranean, but nearly every room upstairs has a servant in it at all times, which means every conversation is overheard by someone. (This movie is heavy on overhearing.)

As one character puts it, the situation makes for “tough luck on anyone who’s got secrets to hide.” Well, guess what. That would include everyone.

An hour and 15 minutes into the movie, a murder occurs, and the victim is someone everyone had a motive to kill. The mildly competent Inspector Thompson (Stephen Fry) is called in to investigate, and the movie is in full Agatha Christie swing. (The detective even smokes a pipe, like you’d expect him to.)

Agatha Christie didn’t delve much into social classes, though, and social classes are what “Gosford Park” is all about. The film takes both lighthearted and dismal approaches, evoking laughter many times and pity at other times.

The perfect servant has no life of his own, knows his master’s whims before the master himself knows them, and has no thought but to serve. Knowledge of this is what ultimately aids the murderer in accomplishing his or her task; the servant-master relationship also keeps the murderer’s identity a secret. This impeccably proper society make murder an easy thing to do, basically.

The performances are utterly delightful, from Stephen Fry’s inspector to Maggie Smith as a hilariously catty relative. (I’d want Maggie Smith to be my grandmother, except I’d be afraid to ever do anything incorrect in her presence.) Helen Mirren is believably rigid as servant Mrs. Wilson, Emily Watson sweet as Elsie the head housemaid, Bob Balaban funny as a Hollywood producer.

Also of note are Ryan Phillippe as a suspicious Scotsman, Jeremy Northam as an ingratiating movie star and Kristin Scott Thomas as the lady of the house.

Altman, working from an idea he and Balaban came up with, and a script written by Julian Fellowes, has an impossible number of characters to keep track of. There are around 30 speaking parts, and it is sometimes difficult to remember who’s who, especially when so much of the gossipy conversation revolves around people who are not present. The movie is not confusing, per se, but we’d get a lot more out of it if we had a score card or something.

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originally posted: 12/12/01 10:50:25
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User Comments

3/27/16 FireWithFire Monday Morning ,totally agree!!!! 1 stars
2/07/13 Monday Morning I LOATHE Altman's style. His flicks, including this one, are really annoying. 1 stars
4/09/11 Annoymous Overrated, Boring, and Not Great Mystery 1 stars
5/02/08 mb Interesting characters but flat story. 2 stars
2/10/08 Pamela White slow and deep plot but excellent acting 4 stars
10/10/07 mr.mike agree with Sir William and Zinzi 3 stars
7/05/07 Will Fenton One of the top five worst movies I have ever seen. 1 stars
4/26/06 Iza true the sequences are good in theory but not in practice 2 stars
8/17/04 R.W. Welch 30's style British murder mystery is done with high polish. Some accents a bit thick. 4 stars
7/21/04 Littlepurch Fantastic cast but unfortunately the story,especially with the solution,was v.disapointing! 2 stars
6/28/04 osmund bullock astonishingly rich, true, funny, sometimes very moving. End not so good. 5 stars
6/15/04 T. Maj Overrated and pointless 2 stars
5/05/04 John simply hard to sit through 1 stars
1/07/04 Rajneesh Chopra Intakhab IV A dump truck's worth of pretentious bowel fill 1 stars
10/18/03 Wendy Carpenter Forget how many of 15-20 characters I could follow. I couldn't CARE about any of them! 2 stars
8/09/03 Joesco Good but difficult to follow characters - Need to see twice 4 stars
6/18/03 Andrew Callaway Very good. Nothing special. Altman directed very well. 4 stars
6/15/03 Jack Sommersby Smoothly directed but so direly lacking in the dramatic areas. Watson is sole bright spot. 2 stars
5/27/03 Jack Bourbon I'll never look at silverware the same. AWESOME production design (I just said that?) 5 stars
4/25/03 Dave A complex and funny whodunit film. Well worth it. 5 stars
4/20/03 Dillon Sorry Bob, it didn't do much for me. Great cast, tho. Mirren the best of them all 3 stars
4/17/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik Great movie if you can follow 15-20 characters. 5 stars
3/28/03 Jack Bourbon I've never been so enamored of a film that revolves around silverware until GP. 5 stars
3/08/03 Nessus Limp lifeless script. No plot. Boring. All characters are 2D. 1 stars
2/08/03 mr. Pink One of the most overrated movies of recent times. Confusing and pointless. 2 stars
2/06/03 Monster W. Kung Excruciatingly boring and lifeless. Good cinematography alone is not enough. 1 stars
2/02/03 Lord David Altman's a tad heavy on the socialism angle - but movie's lovely & funny - and brilliant 5 stars
1/15/03 Phil M. Aficionado Enjoyed the acting, free wheeling style, the "mood" and the class insights. A winner. 4 stars
1/13/03 Stevo Funny, involving, well acted (Maggie Smith is great); the murder is unnecessary 4 stars
12/29/02 Jack Sommersby Overrated, lifeless period comedy/drama. 1 stars
11/16/02 Big Ted One of the Best of 2001! Altman Scores! 5 stars
9/29/02 Peter Sherlock Magic. Top movie! 5 stars
9/07/02 Not really a murder mystery, but decent. 4 stars
8/18/02 LessThanColleen Oh my God, I tried to stay awake, but three hours of this crap? Kill me. Kill me now now. 1 stars
7/26/02 Natalie Stonecipher Murder mystery where all act alike - no need care whodunit! 2 stars
7/23/02 Bueller How many people that no one cares about can we put in one film? This was a waste of talent. 2 stars
7/20/02 ??? a great film 5 stars
7/16/02 Monday Morning Coulda been improved with some tighter editing. Very good but too drawn out. 4 stars
7/04/02 Elizabeth Jackie a very good portrait of such people. 4 stars
7/01/02 Film Dude Oh. My God. Quite simply the most boring film I've EVER seen. 1 stars
7/01/02 The Bomb 69 quite simply the best film of 2001, too complex for the fragile audiences that watched it 5 stars
5/27/02 Francis interesting, but unnecessarily confusing (poor direction), too much mumbling 4 stars
5/15/02 I missed the hype on this. Love Altman, love Helen Mirren 4 stars
4/17/02 Teresa ( Don't try follow the dialog and who is married to who. Just enjoy!! 5 stars
4/08/02 Jimbo Great movie 4 stars
4/06/02 Soggy Bottom Boy Works more as fascinating class interactions rather than murder mystery. 5 stars
3/29/02 Man with the hat killed by other man with the hat. Teresa, It's who is married to WHOM. Either way I enjoyed little. 3 stars
3/26/02 Tracy Frummond Best Screen Play? JOE DIRT was robbed! 2 stars
3/23/02 Guy Forssman A felt asleep 4 times!! They filmed a cluedo game? 1 stars
3/23/02 Natalie Stonecipher Murder mystery where all act alike - no need care whodunit! 2 stars
3/19/02 Trevor L Excellent! 4 stars
3/17/02 Jessica P Excellent! 5 stars
3/17/02 Teresa Don't try follow the dialog and who is married to who. Just enjoy!! 5 stars
3/12/02 spaceworm Yes, looking forward to DVD captions. 5 stars
3/09/02 Pauline Swindells I thought the film's plot was sadly lacking, but it was acted beautifully. I really enjoye 4 stars
3/09/02 Jake Eventhough it was tough to follow, I thoroughly enjoyed the biting dialogue 4 stars
3/08/02 Matthew Smith one of Altman's best films, very witty and superbly made drama 5 stars
3/05/02 StudMaster Well done masterpiece theater. P.S. - THERE IS NO MYSTERY, only a murder!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3 stars
2/22/02 Bueller This movie goes nowhere, and it isn't in any particuar hurry about getting there either. 2 stars
2/22/02 Xaver Maggie Smith is wonderful. Lovely plotting. Lacks subtitles. 5 stars
2/20/02 C. A. Thomas Helen Mirren steals the movie 5 stars
2/19/02 Kenny On 2nd viewing it becomes an even more terrific movie 5 stars
2/19/02 Lisa mumbling,rapid speech,heavy accents,too many characters & plotlines -vy difficult to follow 3 stars
2/18/02 Vicki Pritchard Very well acted 5 stars
2/18/02 Todd Hughes one of the worst movies I've ever seen 1 stars
2/10/02 Zinzi It was interesting, but way too superficial in development of too many characters. 3 stars
2/08/02 Allan Holtzmann A wonderful change from the Hollywood drivel, exceeded my expectations!! 5 stars
2/08/02 malcolm i would give it 5, but the accents made it hard to understand at times 4 stars
2/06/02 Ridge A Peek into the lives of those we sometimes wish to experience personally. 4 stars
2/06/02 gillie ashworth worth a look 4 stars
2/05/02 Patrick Mallon Unbelievably horrible 1 stars
2/05/02 Brian Crompton After 75 minutes "Upstairs Downstairs" I walked out of the film. 2 stars
2/04/02 Chris You've got to pay close attention so at the end you're not too far lost. Excellent ensemble 4 stars
2/04/02 sandi good, but deliberate pacing frustrates US viewers 4 stars
2/02/02 George Absolutely Awful- It's no Upstairs-Downsatirs 1 stars
1/27/02 KumariHPX Great Cast, couldn't follow plot, great performances 4 stars
1/27/02 Eloise Oh my. Life "downstairs" is definitely more interesting than I thought. 4 stars
1/25/02 Boy In The Designer Bubble A great film with far too many characters. I kept getting lost, so I'm gonna see it again. 5 stars
1/25/02 Dave Draper As intelligent & exciting as Lord of the Rings was loud & stupid 5 stars
1/23/02 Steve Bradford Toilet-bowl Yank makes another period B-movie 1 stars
1/22/02 Sir William Easy to watch & well-acted but ultimately pointless and unrewarding pretense all the way 3 stars
1/21/02 Soggy Bottom Boy Superb acting, one of the best ensemble pieces I've seen. Loved the dialogue. 5 stars
1/20/02 Bonne I liked it but couldn't stop the snoring that was happening in the seat next to me (that wo 4 stars
1/19/02 Suzz good but not stupendous 4 stars
1/18/02 karin miller wonderful, enchanting, like a 2 hour bon bon 5 stars
1/15/02 Thor-Leo Oddly clumsy. The murder appeared so late, it seemed like life support, not a plot point. 4 stars
1/13/02 Bob Mortley A bit too much detail for the American Aidience to comprehend and thus enjoy. 4 stars
1/13/02 Emma Lee The best of its kind..positively yummy 5 stars
1/06/02 Film Expert a work of art 5 stars
12/21/01 Tessa I agree with Eric's summation. There were many characters and gossip to keep track of. 4 stars
12/19/01 Harper Sloane Not bad Bob, well directed my son! 4 stars
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  26-Dec-2001 (R)



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