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Gosford Park (2001)

  Directed by: Robert Altman
Starring: Charles Dance, Stephen Fry, Michael Gambon, Richard E Grant, Helen Mirren, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillippe, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith
Links: Gosford Park on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Gosford Park (2001) is also mentioned in pearly's review of Withnail and I (1987).

"Clichéd but clever" - a review by mino

Gosford Park is proof that even the most tired concept for a movie (or, in this case, concepts) can be made into a great movie, even if they've been done before. Several times. Each.

I mean, let's face it. The idea of the decaying-old-manor-murder-mystery-with-the-bumbling-detective has certainly been done before. The upper-class-British-twits versus lower-class-scullery-types class distinction piece is hardly new, and neither are the Oscar-Wildeqsue comedy-of-manners dinner party movie or the out-of-place-Americans-in-the-UK comedy. And believe me, this is hardly an exhaustive list of the concepts in Gosford Park which have been recycled. It's almost a movie-by-the-numbers: it's like director Robert Altman has gone "I'll have one of those, and one of those…".

But you know what? It doesn't matter a whit. Gosford Park is great fun. It does all of these tired, clichéd ideas over again, but it's so absorbing, thought-provoking, and genuinely funny that you really don't care. I hardly need to explain the plot, because there's not much of it. Crusty old English lord, dinner-guests from all over, we find out nearly everyone there has a grudge against the old bastard, and then, of course, it's lights out for Sir William. In comes the bumbling Inspector Thompson (one of my personal favourites, Stephen Fry), and the mystery deepens by the minute.

Gosford Park has some great writing, and some fairly clever and original ideas, given the restrictions of the format. But by far the most impressive thing about it is the cast. Altman has assembled a truly superb cast. Maggie Smith totally steals the show, as she so often does, as the dour Countess; Richard E Grant, another of my favourites, is probably the other highlight as the rather disgruntled valet George.

The overall quality of the cast does make it hard to pick out any more names; but Kristin Scott Thomas (as Sir William's wife), Clive Owen (another valet), and Helen Mirren (as the housekeeper) really do excel. Ryan Phillippe is the resident 'visiting Hollywood star', but while good, he's not really amongst the most impressive actors to grace the screen in this movie.

The most obvious parallel to be drawn between Gosford Park and another movie is probably, for me anyway, the vastly underrated Clue (1985). While not nearly as manic or slapstick as Clue, Gosford Park does share one similarity, and it's the trait that really makes Clue stick out in my mind: the awe-inspiring cast. Altman has assembled an unbelievably good group of actors, and it shows. Gosford Park is also a very highly-polished movie; Altman is clearly a professional. I'll admit that, even for an arthousey Altman movie, Gosford Park does get a bit tedious in parts, but overall Altman has put together a very entertaining and well-made film.

mino gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Sun 4 Aug 2002

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