Cooking with "Gos"
Robert Altman's "Gosford Park" skillfully juggles a huge multi-star cast in the cutting story of class in a 1930s British estate.
By DAVID N. BUTTERWORTH
The setting is a palatial English country estate in the early 1930s.
Multitudinous guests arrive with their valets, maids, and menservants for a
weekend shooting party. Upstairs, the haves hang around the drawing room
eating and drinking and making merry while Ivor Novello tinkles the old
ivories. Downstairs, the have-nots shine shoes, hem dresses, and sit around
endlessly bickering and gossiping.
For a little over two hours, Robert
Altman's delicious "Gosford Park" unfolds with exquisite and meticulous
detail. As with most Altman productions, the film is populated (oftentimes
overpopulated) with more characters than you can shake a stick at, but here
in "Gosford Park" the cast of characters seems exactly right (there are
more than 30 "significant" roles and with few exceptions each performer
contributes a very personal performance).
|Directed by: Robert Altman.|
Written by: Robert Altman, Bob Balaban, Julian Fellowes.
Cast: Michael Gambon, Kristin Scott Thomas, Camilla Rutherford, Maggie Smith, Charles Dance, Geraldine Somerville, Tom Hollander, Natasha Wightman, James Wilby, Claudie Blakley, Laurence Fox, Trent Ford, Jeremy Northam, Bob Balaban, Alan Bates, Helen Mirren, Eileen Atkins, Derek Jacobi, Emily Watson, Richard E. Grant, Jeremy Swift, Meg Wynn Owen, Sophie Thompson, Teresa Churcher, Sarah Flind, Lucy Cohu, Finty Williams, Emma Buckley, Laura Harling, Tilly Gerrard, Will Beer, Gregor Henderson-Begg, Leo Bill, Ron Puttock, Adrian Preater, Kelly Macdonald, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillippe, Joanna Maude, Adrian Scarborough, Frances Low, John Atterbury, Frank Thornton, Stephen Fry, Ron Webster, Ute Lemper..
Related links: Official site | All of David N. Butterworth's reviews at Rotten Tomatoes
What starts out as a comedy of
manners focusing on the division between the classes winds up as an Agatha
Christie-styled whodunnit, but so well crafted is Altman's latest film that
the murder mystery, when it finally comes, seems irrelevant (as surely does
Stephen Fry's bumbling Inspector Thompson, changing the tone late in the
game from the sublime to the ridiculous).
That said, there is a rarity for
Altman these or any other days no gratuitous female nudity (myself having pegged Kristin Scott Thomas and Emily Watson as dead certs going in).
With a splendid and largely British cast headed up by Michael Gambon, Alan
Bates, Derek Jacobi, and Jeremy Northam (as Novello), it's hard to single
out any one individual performance, but Maggie Smith (as the sniping
Countess of Trentham), "Croupier"'s Clive Owen (as a manservant with a
difficult past), Helen Mirren (as Mrs. Wilson the head housekeeper), and
Ryan Philippe (sporting a convincing Scottish brogue) are all worthy of
After the disappointing "Dr. T and the Women" and "Cookie's
Fortune" (both penned by Anne Rapp; Julian Fellowes takes over the writing
reigns here), the 76-year-old Altman is back at the top of his game with
|JANUARY 24, 2002|
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