|List Price: $9.99
Our Price: $9.99
- Fantastic Movie
I love this movie. I can honestly say it is one of my favorites. Robert Altman made it for intelligent, patient viewers who enjoy character development. It is a murder mystery and a study of English class distinctions. One of the most enjoyable things about it is how un-intrusive the camera is. It simply floats about from room to room catching snatches of conversation and revealing bits of character without one feeling its presence. The overall effect is so natural one almost feels one is looking in the window on these people and their lives.
Another thing I love is that it is told from the servant's perspective. If one watches carefully one will notice that there is never a scene without a servant in it somewhere. Their viewpoint is ultimately the most sympathetic and one realizes just how appallingly dependent the gentry was on their domestics. The entire cast is good but Maggie Smith, Kelly MacDonald, and Michael Gambon are especially eye-catching. I find class system to be a fascinating subject, particularly since the American middle-class is so rapidly deteriorating. People who like action flicks and dumb comedies likely will not enjoy this movie at all, nor will children. But for those who simply like to soak in an insightful, character driven period piece, this is the movie for you. ...more info
- Absolutely fantastic
You can read the other reviews for the plot outline. Superb acting and fantastic plot outline and directing. Everyone is believable. Maggie Smith gives an exceptional performance, and the intertwined yet distanced relationships between the upstairs and downstairs inhabitants is perfection. Clive Owen (Parks) and Kelly MacDonald (Mary) are fantastic, and their small, rather chaste kiss was only an almost-satisfying culmination of their friendship/romance. However both their characters were supremely well-acted. Emily Watson plays Elsie to a T...completely believable, superbly acted. The costumes, sets, and every detail were wonderful...everything believable. Jeremy Northam singing was a delightful surprise and bonus to the film. A complete success...an intricate, interesting study of reactions, relationships, and snobbery. Gosford Park epitomizes quality movie-making, with about the best cast imaginable. ...more info
- Classy Classic
This well-directed film, Robert Altman's last, I believe, is rich and delightful in many ways. I almost feel that I am watching a documentary of the period between wars in the English country house. From the costumes to the cars and servants, the details are right on.
Maggie Smith and Derek Jacobi give remarkably fine perfomances. Actually, everyone does, even the funny almost over-the-top, Stephen Fry.
I enjoyed seeing this DVD at a friend's house and I knew I wante to view it again and again. So I was happy to find it reasonably priced at Amazon. ...more info
- okay, but a bit long-winded
I like things that are efficient and functional. Gosford Park is not. It is a long-winded tale about the servants of rich people and how they interact with their masters/mistresses. Two vivid moments were both about how two people could have connected, but they did not because of the constraints of the service. A mother and son were separated, and she decided not to say anything to the son who does not find out his mother is still alive. They serve different masters. A romance begins to sprout between a young girl and a young man, but in the end it only results in a single kiss. Such brief moments of feelings not acted upon would be trite if not for the fact that they occur in the dull monotony of servanthood. In such a context, the viewer is shown the power of such points of decisions in a character's life. If you have the time, or if your girlfriend really wants to see it, it's okay. But has my life been enriched by the Gosford experience? Not enough to just watch it on my own. Go learn about saving for retirement instead, I say....more info
- Commentary by Julian Fellowes is most enjoyable!
I'm glad this DVD belongs to me for I will watch it many times. The music is lovely and Jeremy Northam and Clive Owen are easy on the eyes.
Julian Fellowes has an excellent commentary explaining the aristocracy and the servant class which made the story-line all the more understandable and therefore more enjoyable. Thank you, Julian Fellowes!...more info
- Many-layered: Every performance is perfect.....
This film can be seen many times and each time, you see something you missed the time before. Both of the commentaries are fascinating. The screenwriter has experienced knowing people who really lived like this, so he is very interesting to listen to. The cast is filled with excellent actors, who, I think, took smaller parts because they wanted to work in a Robert Altman film and they are sublime. No one ever puts a foot wrong. Watch facial expressions and "thrown away" remarks, that are really vital to the story. I would suggest putting on the "caption" feature so you can follow the story while listening to the commentaries, or even to be sure you know what the Scottish Mary Maceachran (Maggie Smith's lady's maid) is saying or any other British speech pattern that may be unfamiliar to your ear. Watch for Meg Wynn Owen, who plays Lady Sylvia's lady's maid- she played Hazel Bellamy in the "Upstairs, Downstairs" series back in the 1970's (a matchless series, in my opinion- don't miss it). Sophie Thompson (Emma's sister) is quietly perfect as Dorothy, the still room maid, who worships Jennings, the butler. She played a perfectly silly woman in "Four Weddings and a Funeral"- she was the second bride, but she really shows her acting chops in this film. Watch for the "strawberry jam" scene with Tom Hollander and her speech about the meaning of love, even though your love isn't returned. I couldn't recommend it more. Jeremy Northam plays Ivor Novello (look him up on Google- Jeremy even looks a little like him) in a small part but played beautifully. Altman said he threw in the "F" word enough times so it would keep 14 year old boys out of the film when it showed in theaters; I don't think it would have been a problem. 14 year old boys wouldn't have been tempted and they wouldn't have understood it- in fact, I doubt if most men would get the point. They would have been looking at their watches hoping it would end soon. People who like the era and all the layers of detail will love it, I am sure. 5 stars from me, though I am a complete and utter Anglophile. You can't go wrong with an Altman film, in any case. It's also a good "escape" movie- takes you away from one's daily problems for a couple of hours- make some microwave popcorn and some iced tea (or a pot of hot tea!) and kick back. Exquisite!...more info
- Good mystery.
I love movies set in this era and I'm an avid mystery watcher. This movie is great....more info
- Taking a chance?
This was my first shopping experience and it was in great condition with fast shipping....more info
- Brilliant Ensemble Cast - Outstanding Entertainment!
Director Robert Altman serves up an atypical drama/whodunit, set on an English country estate, the "Gosford Park" of the title, during a weekend of pheasant hunting. The superb ensemble cast gives outstanding performances, and an in-depth glimpse of the British class system. Multiple plots and subplots are woven together seamlessly to provide taut suspense, fascinating character studies, and various suspects and motives for the murder of a man killed twice. We are also given more than a glimpse of lives led both Upstairs and Downstairs, and the snobbery and pecking order which exist on all levels.
Set in the early 1930's, Sir William McCordle, (Michael Gambon), and his wife, the much younger, acrimonious Lady Sylvia, (Kristin Scott Thomas), entertain a group of aristocrats, and non-titled social climbers, for a shooting party. The guests arrive with their servants in tow. Lady Sylvia despises her husband for his lack of blue blood, love of money and lecherous ways. She takes her pleasure elsewhere. Intrigue, rivalry, venomous feelings, envy, and sexual escapades abound on all floors of the manse, and gossip is rampant and delicious. Maggie Smith is wonderful as the Countess of Trentham, who peers through her lorgnette and tosses-off barbed comments at one and all - except the man who holds the purse strings. She is dependent on Sir William for her allowance, which he threatens to put a halt to. Ivor Novello, (Jeremy Northam), is a Hollywood movie star and English matinee idol. A distant relation of the McCordles, he was invited on the condition that he entertain the other guests with music and song. He accepts in order to wangle an invitation for his colleague, American movie producer, Morris Weissman, (Bob Balaban). Weissman, who spends most of the movie on the telephone, talking long distance with honchos in Hollywood, is researching the lives of the rich and infamous for an upcoming film, ''Charlie Chan in London."
Below stairs, head housemaid Elsie, (Emily Watson), spontaneously outs herself as Sir William's lover. Helen Mirren gives an exceptional performance as the head housekeeper, Mrs. Wilson, "the perfect servant. The seemingly naive Mary Macearchran, (Kelly Macdonald), is the Countess' lady's maid. She is much more astute and observant than anyone would give her credit for. Stephen Fry is funny as the police inspector, of the Clouseau school of sleuthing, and provides comic relief. This is entertainment at its best.
"Gosford Park," written by Julian Fellowes from a concept by Mr. Altman and Bob Balaban, won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Amazingly, Altman was 76 years-old when he made the film.
- All Dressed up with Nowhere to Go
Robert Altman used to be a great director who wielded one mean camera.
Now he's become a cinematic sadist looking for a masochistic victim. If you watch "Gosford Park", you're the victim, and Altman is the leather-clad gimp.
"Gosford Park", Robert Altman's self-referential and cleverer-than-thou deconstruction of Agatha Christie's great whodunits, is crammed to its Victorian manor home garrets with enough actors to stage a full-scale invasion of Normandy (and win!), obsessively detailed, and repulsively self-absorbed. This is a strange and decidedly post-modern mixture of all-Plot and no-Plot, a smirking deconstructionist manifesto masquerading as a 1930's murder mystery.
"Gosford Park" doesn't entertain, thrill, or amuse: it bores. It is a new twist on cinema, to be sure: the Movie as Torture Device.
Roughly a million primary, secondary, and tertiary English characters and their servants converge on the remote English manor home of William and Sylvia McCordle (played in desperately work-manlike fashion by Michael Gambon and Kristin Scott Thomas, respectively) for an extended week-end of dining, mumbling, and grouse-shooting, with an extra serving of mumbling.
Our battalion of mumblers, Upper and Lower Class, maneuver around and about the ornately appointed chambers and elegantly manicured grounds of the Victorian manse, wheedling and plotting and whispering and, of course, mumbling. Elderly dame Constance Trentham (played acutely by Maggie Smith, who could do this sort of period dance in her sleep by now, and probably did) wheels whispering about the dining room and parlor of the estate, worrying about status and couth.
The hapless Meredith couple (Tom Hollander, Natasha Wightman, turning in fine roles as middle-class mumblers) are trying to wrangle a deal with the elderly, grumbling, blackhearted Lord McCordle. Lady Sylvia (Thomas) is wan, capricious, fickle and unhappy; Lord William (Gambon) is bellicose, loud, and rugose.
Everyone is unhappy. Everyone mumbles.
Downstairs the staff mumble, but in Cockney accents, so whereas the Upper class mumbling is understandable, the soupy Yorkshire-to-Southwark gurgles will doubtless cause you to curse and demand subtitles. Alas, no help is forthcoming, and you'll spend a few minutes rewinding the DVD to try, desperately and futilely, to figure out what that First Footman said. Or was it the 4th Beater? Never mind. You'll be so absorbed muddling through the accents and the mumbling it won't really matter.
There are a number of inevitable collisions between the gallant forces of Upstairs and the stolid and stoic servitors Downstairs as Things Come to a Head, portrayed through awkward pauses in dinnertime chit-chat (read: stilted mumbling punctuated by gasps) and startling revelations during tea-time at the McCordle Gazebo.
None of this makes for an interesting movie. Indeed, it makes for something approximating Hell on Earth.
"Gosford Park" drowns in its own smug self-satisfaction, its endless mumbling, its dry-and-unaffected seminal murder sequence (presented almost as an afterthought), its muddle-headed and moronic Scotland Yard investigator (played foolishly by the great and underrated Stephen Fry, who sinks without a cry in this murky soup), and its anti-climactic "conclusion".
This is not to say that the "Gosford Park" ship sinks without a mighty effort from its crew. The captain may be drunk at the helm, but the acting is terrific throughout, in spite of the mumbling: Dame Maggie Smith entrances as always, Kristin Scott Thomas does wonders with her thankless role, Michael Gambon rages and goes not softly into the dying of the Light, Helen Mirren is an oasis of dignity and desperate reserve, Derek Jacobi carves out precious little slices of the film and makes them his own, and the great Charles Dance and the inimitable Richard Grant do what they can with the material they have.
I will also admit that the world of "Gosford Park" is handsomely mounted---like most dead wild beasts that have been shot and stuffed---and kudos go to Director of Photography Andrew Dunn (who stirred up the bewitching cinematography in "The Madness of King George III" and "Count of Monte Cristo"), set designer Anna Pinnock (who moved on to "Van Helsing") and costume design by Jenny Beavan, ("Alexander") and has about a million Jane Austen treatments under her belt. Everything looks smashing.
Alas, "smashing" isn't the word that comes to mind about the larger work of "Gosford Park". 'Dull' is. For a movie that demands this much of its audience, "Gosford Park" really doesn't seem to care that much about its plot, its characters, or its resolution---and certainly not its audience.
To those who want to see the British class system skewered, buy "Upstairs/Downstairs". To those looking for some ghoulishness mixed in with their rich Edwardian atmosphere, pick up "Clue" or "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes".
To those who want to lose more than two hours of their life to a mumbling, plotless, aimless and colorless British costume drama helmed by a director who has seen better days, pick up "Gosford Park". Just don't say you weren't warned in advance.
I would rather have someone drive red-hot pokers into both of my eyes than ever watch this vile thing again.
- Best Contemporary English Murder Mystery on Film
If you want to spend a rainy evening at a stately English estate guessing whodunit?, this classic Altman film is for you. Star-studded cast in a complex, intertwined storyline with great plot twists and period details to perfection. Definitely worth the purchase. You'll watch it over and over just to decipher all the witty British dialogue. ...more info
- What a waste
What a waste of millions of dollars and some of the world's finest actors. This tediously long film is a mixture of Upstairs-Downstairs and Agatha Christie. Altman just doesn't understand either the upstairs or downstairs people. His "sexy" scenes are embarrassingly dumb. Some of the dialogue is unintelligible, especially when it is delivered by people pretending to be from Scotland. And at the end, when three people "rip off their masks," so to speak, and are really other people, the dialogue is so clumsy that if you look the other way for a second you'll miss the plot summation. This is a film that deserves to be listed in the Turkey book, under the title Most Expensive. It fails to be amusing, insightful, or even entertaining. The worst part is the script, and so, predictably, the writer received an Academy Award,...more info
- Gosford Paark
I thought this was an excellant movie and have watched it several times....more info
- Post great war Britian and the Hollywood invasion
This mystery is sort of an upstairs ( ladies and gentlemen)
and downstairs ( maids, valets, cooks and butlers) mixer.
A shooting -gathering of the clans brings together
and aristocratic family and
some American Hollywood invaders.
The head of the clan is a merchant and he is murdered.
The Lady's maid of the dowager seems to have more idea of the motivations of the crime than the constable and detective of the police.
The traditional British empire culture of the 1800's of manners and styles is about to change and we are given a window on why. ...more info
- High-Brow Mystery
Gosford Park provides us with a unique view of British society in the 30's. The characterizations are so rich that the mystery itself becomes secondary. This is a movie that can be enjoyed on many levels. You become totally enveloped in the pre-war British aristocracy; only the dinner convervations among the men give you any idea of the dangers that lie ahead. You see American society as "comic" and portrayed by a weekend guest, a Hollywood producer from America. It is a 2-way mirror, though; he is there obstensibly to view the British on their own turf for his upcoming movie. A brief inquiry is made at the dinner table of his next film. It is made clear that Americans are not to be taken seriously.
This movie is exquisitely filmed. The acting is superb. The mystery is sublime.
- Upstairs and downstairs
A weekend in a fabulous mansion of the countryside between blue-blood aristocrats and a murder is the perfect excuse to reunite to one of the most talented groups of British actors in the new film of Robert Altman, Gosford Park.
In this acute social satire, the veteran director presents/displays the exaggerated pretentiousness of the English high class and the relations between masters and servants, outlining clearly the values and opposed attitudes of each class.
Completely narrated from the point of view of the servants, Gosford Park is an acute observation of the division of classes that characterized England in the thirties.
In 1932, Gosford Park is the magnificent house of Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) and his wife, the glamorous Lady Sylvia (Kristin Scott Thomas). To a weekend celebration that includes hunting and abundant banquets attend a spoiled countess (Maggie Smith), a movie producer (Bob Balaban), a matinee idol (Jeremy Northam) and the sisters of Lady Sylvia.
Under the sumptuous rooms of the rich, the austere floors of the help contain a group so impressive as the one above, which includes Jennings, the main butler (Alan Bats), Sir William's valet (Sir Derek Jacobi) and the other help members who come with their masters, from the suspect Harry Denton (Ryan Phillipe) to the ingenuous Mary (Kelly MacDonald). All the personnel are supervised by Mrs. Wilson (Helen Mirren), the cook (Eileen Atkins) and Elsie (Emily Watson).
The story goes on between the financial and sexual goings and comings of the masters and their servants. Plots and subplots are mere instruments so these characters receive their dose of scandal, gadgets, rumors, treason, sexual tension and murder.
Altman, specialist in films with long casts, demonstrates that he hasn't lost his spark and playfulness. For each laughter and playful moment, there's a dark and surprise turn. Gosford Park is so jammed of guests and servants, that the disappearance of a knife goes unnoticed, until it appears in the chest of one of the main characters.
But to explore the criminal genre is clearly not Altman's intention; rather it is to make fun of it. The clues are so obvious and the clumsy detective (Stephen Fry) is so obtuse that he destroys more evidence than the ones he collects. As to be expected, there's more than one suspect, and no character is 100% innocent. Not the one upstairs and much less those downstairs. Everybody is guilty, because everybody has a secret.
Perusing the reviews for "Gosford Park" I wasn't surprised to see several complaints of boredom. It might sound stupid, but anyone who found this film boring is not Robert Altman's intended audience. Gosford Park is a masterpiece of subtlety and exquisite attention to detail; it requires patience and focus on the part of the viewer. The entertainment is there on the screen; it's up to the individual to discover it.
"Gosford Park" succeeds in bringing together two completely different worlds that rarely, if ever, collide. The languid upstairs sphere hovers just above the much more crowded and lively below stairs universe. To watch the ballet dance between the two is to watch genius at work.
- Wonderful, luxurious mystery
The story opens in 1932 at the country estate of Lord and Lady McCordle; guests arriving for the weekend include friends and relatives and even a Hollywood movie producer. Of course, they bring their servants who bustle around downstairs to make life grand for their betters upstairs. When someone is found dead - and it appears he was murdered twice - everyone seems to have a motive.
The superb cast of British megastars is led by Maggie Smith who steals the show with her funny/snobby countess role, Helen Mirren who is tragically efficient as the housekeeper, and Kelly Macdonald who plays a wonderfully meek ladies' maid. Each of the wealthy guests is incredibly spoiled and oblivious to the world downstairs, where the servants have their own hierarchy and drama. Everyone has a secret and they all unfold much to our delight.
Director Robert Altman's style of having overlapping dialogue can be frustrating; at first it was hard to understand what was being said because everyone talks at the same time or mumbles, but it's still fun to soak up the atmosphere of the filthy rich who find everything too, too boring. This movie is part comedy, part drama, dripping with period authenticity. It was nominated for seven Oscars and won for Best Director. Lots of fun Extras on the DVD....more info
- The Work of a Master
As has been stated by so many reviewers before me, "Gosford Park" is a wonderfully written, acted, produced, and most importantly directed piece of cinema history. It comprises a truly stellar cast all delivering solid performances in astonishing surroundings. Especially is the effulgence of the great Maggie Smith hard to ignore.
Other reviewers have described the plot in fine detail, so I shant bother you with that. I'll get straight to the important bits: the directing. Robert Altman was, in my opinion, one of only a couple of directors who could have made "Gosford Park" in a proper way. The character driven story is made believable through his unique style. Especially the dialogue, which bears his trademark clatter, chatter, and ambient noise, really gives the impression that we are in a real, busy household with lots of things to take care of and all the rest of it. You really have to concentrate to hear what they are all saying, and still you're probably going to miss some things. Yet this is what makes the film work so well. It plays on the gossip that drives both the upper and the lower classes. On the rumours, the hearsay, the beliefs.
The writing of course is equally good. Great characters and witty dialogue. I am laughing out loud every time I see this film. It is funny but not ridiculous, it is dramatic, but not shakespearean. It is, in a word, great....more info
- Altman crosses Agatha Christie with Merchant-Ivory
Robert Altman doesn't need to copy anyone. The director of "Nashville" and the film version of "M*A*S*H" has a recognizable style that would serve as an excellent template for ensemble cast films. In Gosford Park he applies that wonderfully witty style to a production that initially looks like one of those wonderful Merchant-Ivory features with gentlemen in tuxedos and ladies in elegant gowns strolling around a British Manor.
The cast is chock-a-block full of gifted English performers - some of them recognizable to American viewers: Maggie Smith, Ryan Phillippe, Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon just before donning the long beard of Albus Dumbledore in the most recent Harry Potter films, Kristin Scott Thomas. "Look, there's.... whatsisname" I thought often.
The story establishes a busy "upstairs/downstairs" feel as the rich and titled are invited to visit the manor of Bambon's Sir William McCordle for a shooting party. Those rich lords and ladies walk and talk and gossip upstairs while downstairs the equally interesting maids and butlers walk and talk and gossip.
About halfway through the film one of the titled is murdered and the rest of the film follows the outline of one of those Agatha Christie whodunits, but the richness and complexity of the characters and their interactions with one another are in a definite Altman style that make you care about these characters and whodunit in a way that is deeper than Dame Agatha's fine stories. You find that half of the upstairs houseguests have a motive, and you discover the same about the servants downstairs. The movie pays meticulous attention to the distinction between classes and position and income. Maggie Smith Sir William's Sister, Constance, is by position the Countess of Trentham, but she is completely dependent on her brother's allowance to maintain even the appearance of a lavish lifestyle. The servants downstairs know that they are not in the class of those upstairs, but they are further divided in that their rank among the fellow servants is reflected by the rank of their employer. At the servant's dinner table they are seated by the rank of their boss upstairs. They are even called by the name of their employer.
Altman definitely differs from Christie in that you come to form sorts of emotional attachments to some of these characters. By the denouement you have come to care about what has happened, and the weight of whodunit has a depth that is far beyond simply "who's going to jail". It's a rewarding way to spent a couple of hours....more info
- Classic Mystery
This play is a mystery, but that's an understatement. It's also a documentary of the social manners and customs of a slice of life in the old-money priveleged class society. The plot becomes more and more complex and subtly revealing of the underlying cross currents and hidden agendas of the wide variety of personalities of the guests gathered for a hunting party weekend.
Development of the mystery is so clever and subtle that it's not apparent until it explodes on the scene unexpectedly. Every character is an interesting person so the combination of their actions makes for a fascinating story and a gimpse into a socological cross section.
Plan on seeing it at least twice because the ending is abrupt and has the viewer wondering what clues he overlooked along the way. It's slow paced but very cleverly done. Excellent acting and very realistic costumes and sets. Good entertainment. It grows on you....more info
- Costume Drama
Robert Altman decided to leave his usual Americana behind with the dreary British period piece "Gosford Park." It's 1932; the British aristocracy is in its twilight and war looms on the Continent. At Gosford Park,however,it's all fun and games until someone ends up dead. Think of this movie as the dull "Clue" made a little more brilliantly.
"Gosford Park" has the usual upstairs/downstairs drama. The great Bob Balaban stars as a visiting Hollywood producer. The hosting aristocrats are Michael Gambon and Kristin Scott Thomas. Jeremy Northam and Maggie Smith are part of the upper crust. Numbered among the servants and valets are the late Alan Bates, Clive Owen, Derek Jacobi, and Ryan Philippe. Helen Mirren herself is in charge of the servants. Talented actors, beautiful production design, elegant costumes, period music-- and yet it falls flat.
Needless to say,all there is to this costume drama are the costumes,even with the great Stephen Fry as the detective. Much of the movie is confused and consists of people muttering to each other. It's nearly unintelligible (maybe it needed subtitles-it was Altman's foreign film)
"Gosford Park" ends up being an overrated,gussied up spectacle. It's all dressed up... with no place to go....more info
Every actor and actress for this film was perfectly cast. Maggie Smith should have received an academy award for her performance. This film is filled with humor, drama, rapier wit, and wonderful scenes that you should show your household staff so they will know how to set the table properly. This is now one of my favorite films of all time....more info
- i still think it was the butler.
brilliant, smart, sexy. this movie makes me laugh out loud no matter how many times i've seen it. maggie smith is fabulous....more info
- A Fabulous All-Star English Film With Top-notch Acting.
Gosford Park is a fabulous English film about a day in the lives of a bunch of aristocrats and the lower working class servants. The all-star ensemble features many A-list serious English actors including some of my favorites Emily Watson(house maid), Kristin Scott Thomas(the wife of a wealthy man), Helen Mirren(the housekeeper), and Maggie Smith(a super snob). Actually, Ryan Phillipe is also in it with a fake British accent. Other sophisticated character actors include Jeremy Northem, Clive Owen, Michael Gambon, and Stephen Fry as the police inspector.
The story is about the little things that goes on during the day while everyone is getting ready for a grand party. There are secrets and backstabbings between the two classes in the house. For instance, Emily Watson is secretly having an affair with her master/empolyer. Helen Mirren is withholding her true identity from the son who never knew her. Kristin Scott Thomas is cheating on her husband. The seemingly worry-free Maggie Smith might have to face finiancial problems if her sponsor stops giving her allowances. Then someone gets murdered and the houseful of guests and staffs all panic....
This film received numerous Oscar nominations, and both Maggie Smith and Helen Mirren were competitors in the best supporting actress cateogory. I think Smith was brilliant, because she really captured the essence of her character, but it's an unlikeable one. Helen Mirren stood out when she had her breakdown later in the film. She did a great job holding herself together until she couldn't take it anymore.
I enjoyed this film tremendously, because it's funny, dramatic, suspenseful, and touching. It's very entertaining for a period English film, and it's one of my favorite Robert Altman film....more info
- excellent film
Excellent film. Beautifully writtten, produced, directed, & acted. Do yourself a favor - see this film, more than once. Ignore those who have given it fewer than 5 stars. After having read their "reviews" and comments I feel nothing but pity for them. They obviously do not understand the film. Perhaps they should spend more time reading and less watching 'reality tv'??? Godsford Park is a gem - one should view it for the glorious sets alone. ...more info
- Hollywood grossness versus British aristocratic bleakness
Well played and pleasant but absolutely sinister. D.H Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover in reverse. Lady Chatterley is in fact a Lord. And everything is different. The Lord has the right to have as many affairs with the female servants as he wants. He has the right to have as many children with these female servants as he wants and then to have the babies abandoned and sent to orphanages. Absolutely disgusting. And what's more he may keep the servants for further use eventually. When we know that we know the murder of the Lord will be accepted by everyone in his own social class as justified, that they will cover it up for the police not to find out the murderer. And what's more they will have been backboneless enough not to murder him themselves and let the servants murder him. Here Robert Altman imagines a thriller that becomes a vicious denunciation of the deepest hypocrisy you can imagine, that of the British aristocracy. There is little to add to this tale, except that all in all only the servants have the human dignity that provides them with some human feelings, including for the son that has managed to survive and is condemned to remain officially unknown. It is also the servants who have the liking and taste for the Hollywood sentimental and sentimentalese songs that are sung for the entertainment of the ladies and gentlemen who treat that music as some charming accompaniment for their simmering hatred of the world and themselves. Of course Altman also manages to put one note against the Americans in the two characters from California, one having a typically non-Anglo-Saxon name, viz. Weissman. They are vicious enough to infiltrate the servant quarters just for the sake of a film on the very same situation, hence to guarantee the realism of the servants' side of the film. But they are also gross enough to reveal the subterfuge before the end and that reveals too how much the servants hate this indiscretion that reveals their side of ,the household to someone from the other side of the household. The gap between the two social classes that live along to one another in this mansion is wider than the distance between the earth and the moon.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine & University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne
- Gosford Park
This is a clever "Country Manor" mystery with some very fine actors in roles quite different from their ordinary ones. The look at 'below stairs' staff is most interesting....more info
- A Poisonous Paradise
In a screenplay by Julian Fellowes, and through the imaginations of Bob Balaban and the late director, Robert Altman, viewers find themselves transported to the upper crust society of 1932 England, where the devious Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) and his elegant and aristocratic, but cold wife,Lady Sylvia(Kristen Scott Thomas) host variegated guests at their country estate for a weekend shooting party.
Young Mary Maceachran(Kelly Macdonald)accompanies her employer, Constance, the Countess of Trenham (Dame Maggie Smith)to her niece's estate, encountering actor/singer/composer, Ivor Novello, Sir William's second cousin (an amiable and very gifted Jeremy Northam), on the road with friend and producer, Morris Weissman (a crude Bob Balaban) en route to the same destination.
Others arriving at the estate on that rainy November day include the hostess' sisters Louisa and Lavinia(Geraldine Sommerville, Natasha Wightman) and Lord Stockbridge and Commander Meredith (Charles Dance and Tom Hollander). The McCordle's daughter Isobel (Camilla Rutherford), greets her suitor, Lord Rupert Standish (Lawrence Fox), who is accompanied by his friend, Mr. Jeremy Blond (Trent Ford). The Nesbitts, Freddie and Mabel (James Wilby and Claudey Blakely) are a couple who happen to be broke, and their relationship is tense and volatile.
The butler, Jennings (Alan Bates) greets the guests at the entrance and directs the servants upon their arrival. Indoors, the downstairs set are directed by Mrs. Wilson ( Helen Mirren), the chief housekeeper. The other notable servants in this drama include Mrs. Croft (Eileen Atkins), Probst, the valet (Derek Jacobi), Robert Parks (a subtly charismatic Clive Owen) a gauche and mysterious Henry Denton(Ryan Phillippe)who tries to seduce Mary at one point, and head housemaid, Elsie (a hard-bitten Emily Watson), who, like more than one before her, knows her employer quite intimately.
During an afternoon tea, Novello finds himself at the receiving end of Constance's caustic views of his career, but also on the receiving end of Mabel's admiration.
In the style and tradition of episodes of "Mystery" and "Masterpiece Theater", we are led through the upper crust rituals of formal dinners, games of pool, and the shooting party itself.
After one of many scandalous secrets is revealed, Novello is called to ease the tension by playing a few numbers. "I Can Give You the Starlight" was composed seven years after this story takes place. Yet despite this inaccuracy, I found myself glad it was included. The piano stylings of Jeremy Northam and/or his brother, Christopher liven things up more than a little, and the well-enunciated, Broadway-ish singing voice of the former, allegedly developed during a real-life stint as a singing waiter, is a pleasant one. Watching the servants dance to the distant sound of his tunes is priceless, emphasizing the spontaneous joy of the downstairs set.
When the host is found dead in his study, with his ever-present dog close at hand, the reaction of those present is one of temporary stunned surprise and horror, even by the widow.
Stephen Fry's Inspector Thompson is called in, along with assistant Constable Dexter (Ron Webster).
While some tears are shed, generally, the crisis is met with stereotypical British reserve, as the widow and daughter entertain their guests clad in mourning. But more unflattering secrets about the departed are revealed, along with the pretentiousness of some of the upstairs set. Constable Dexter's summary of this world is one of dead-on precision: "It's a poisonous paradise."
Soon, many of those involved find themselves making life-altering choices, and those unable to do so are left to new dilemmas and/or to their grief--not just over the deceased, but also in several instances, to issues pertaining to his treatement of them.
The reprise of Novello's "The Land of Might-Have-Been" proves a fitting conclusion for the piece-- a sweet and sour slice of upper-crust life of a by-gone era, that makes fine viewing for quiet evenings in....more info
- A Murder Mystery, Sort of....
Robert Altman's 2001 Academy Award-winning "Gosford Park" defies easy characterization. Nominally a closed house English murder mystery taking place during a 1930's weekend shooting party at a country estate, it features a huge cast of developed characters, a variety of colliding subplots, and highly detailed period sets. Shot in typical Altman style, the camera ranges upstairs among the aristocrats and downstairs among the servants. There is so much going on that the actual murder almost gets lost in the near chaos.
Each of the guests gathering at Sir William McCorkle's (Michael Gambon) estate for the weekend shooting party has an agenda. Many are financially dependent to one degree or another on the coarse and selfish McCorkle. Rivalries are fought out in politely understated but often vicious conversations. Much of the story is told through the eyes of the servants below stairs, headed by Alan Bates as the head butler and Helen Mirren in a magnificent turn as the housekeeper. Each of the servants has his or her stoutly defended place in the hierarchy of the house, and his or her own secrets, which are suspensefully doled out over the course of the film. Clive Owen, a valet with an attitude, will turn out to have both a leading role and surprising connections with several members of the household. Kelly McDonald, as a young lady's maid learning her trade serving a waspish but financially needy Countess played by Maggie Smith, provides an innocent viewpoint on much of the goings-on.
The murder itself is something of an afterthought, ineptly investigated by a pompous police inspector (in a typically humorous performance by Stephen Fry). Its solution will play out among members of the household in unexpected ways that have little to do with law enforcement.
This is a challenging film to watch. Viewers will want to take advantage of the extra features on this DVD for more insight into what is going and how "Gosford Park" was put together. It is in the end a highly entertaining movie, most apt to appeal to fans of Robert Altman's unique movie-making style and to fans of ensemble British movies.