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    Gosford Park

    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.


    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.

    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
    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).

    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 attention.

    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 "Gosford Park."

    JANUARY 24, 2002

    Reader comments on Gosford Park:

  • Gosford Park   from Blake McDonald, Apr 7, 2002
  • Trent Ford   from Yesenia, May 12, 2002
  • Re: Trent Ford   from unknown, Jun 12, 2002
  • Gosford Park - pah!   from D., Jul 24, 2002
  • Viewing   from Robert vincent, Apr 21, 2004
  • Re: Trent Ford   from jessica, Jun 27, 2003
  • So British Full of It!   from Huubster, Nov 17, 2003
  • On Maggie's Part   from Zipporah Bourne, Apr 21, 2006

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