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Overall Rating

Awesome: 21.77%
Worth A Look41.94%
Average: 10.48%
Pretty Bad: 10.48%
Total Crap: 15.32%

5 reviews, 94 user ratings

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Gosford Park
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by Thom

"Hollywood, the fashion world, suburbia and now the English aristocracy"
4 stars

A meandering, elegant whodunnit that mixes revenge and ennui. The story takes place at Gosford Park, an enormous English country estate with two distinct worlds. The world above the stairs and the world below. The sanctity of this system is compromised by an American film producer who is doing research for his latest Charlie Chan film.

Being from California explains away his lack of manners. The aristocratic guests, who have gathered for a shooting party, arenít the slightest bit interested in the Hollywood guest and one of them, Constance, the Countess of Trentham played by Maggie Smith, is positively aghast that anyone should find entrance into her comfortable and traditional landed life through hard work or cunning.

Gosford Park is also a period piece and director, Robert Altman (Shortcuts, The Player, Ready to Wear), obsessed over details as fine as what underwear the maids should be wearing. The film looks like 1932. There is something to be said for the elegance of the aristocracy but I could do without the formality and the constraining social protocol.

You could be having an affair right in front of your wife and all your friends but if you conduct yourself in the proper way and everybody pretends its not happening, then it isnít. The watertight hull of the SS Gosford begins to show signs of a wear and leak threatens to sink the whole ship. A scandal isnít a scandal until people start talking about what they all already know.

Clive Owens and Hellen Mirren team up again (Greensleeves also starred the pair) as a visiting valet and the Gosford Housekeeper who also have their own secrets. The naÔve Mary, The Countess of Trenthams new maid, played by Kelly McDonald, acts as the pivot point. Through her we gain entrance into the house and we learn the discretion of the servants along with her. Things are not always as they seem and it is essential that they stay that way, even in the case of a murder.

Altman likes to carry the audience from character to character, a technique he uses in Gosford Park to keep the action flowing around the under stairs staff. The servants validate the story by being the witness of it. They are the audience for the show they put on every day, from dressing and pressing to feeding and cleaning.

Stephen Fry is the incompetant Inspector Thompson, who probably got the job because his father knew someone who knew someone and with a crumbling empire, a civil job was the only sure way of securing an income if one wanted to stay above the working class. Thatís how a lot of vicars got their jobs. He confuses evidence at a crime scene for comforts placed there for him to entertain himself while he interviewed the house. His assistant, Constable Dexter (Ron Webster) is a thwarted Sherlock Holmes who has to bow to the authority of the inspector.

A big deal was made about how Altman asked the actors to not stage their conversations but just to talk over each other and the sound people would figure it out later. I donít think this is particularly unique, or ďgeniusĒ but it works to convey the chaos of every day life and avoids the stagey feel of focusing the audiences attention on one conversation while still creating the illusion of a buzz around an animated party.

Nobody gets lost in the ensemble or is asked to carry an entire scene. There were so many characters though, that many of them remained undeveloped, especially the sisters of Lady McCordle (Kristin Scott Thomas), Lady Stockbridge (Geraldine Somerville) and Lady Meredith (Natasha Wightman) and a couple of guests who appear at the beginning and again, leaving at the end and I had no idea what they were there for. Claudie Blakley who plays the dowdy and common Mabel Nesbitt, gets a real character rather than just a pretty dress to wear on screen. In fact, she is given a plain dress, but she also gets a soul, which is something lacking in the hardened aristocrats.

Thatís not to say that all the players didnít do the job they were given, but I love characters and I want to be indulged by everyone who is given weight in a script so I was a little disappointed there couldnít be more strands of the web held by Lady Stockbridge and Lady Meredith. No wonder Short Cuts and The Player are so long. There are so many alleyways that need to be wandered down to validate putting a character in the script in the first place.

Gosford Park is a pleasure to watch and gently reveals the remarkable rituals of the aristocracy and the servant class while creating plausibility around a variety of culprits until the final shocking revelation.

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originally posted: 12/22/01 10:31:40
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User Comments

10/05/18 morris campbell AWFUL IMHO 1 stars
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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