Thursday, January 31, 2008

Gosford Park

Gosford Park; Drama, UK/ USA/ Germany/ Italy, 2001; D: Robert Altman, S: Helen Mirren, Derek Jacobi, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Camilla Rutherford, Charles Dance, Stephen Fry, Ryan Phillippe, Clive Owen, Richard E. Grant, Emily Watson

England, 1930's. Sir William McCordle and his wife Sylvia arrange a hunting party in their mansion. Among numerous guests are also William's sister Constance, who is dependent of his money, and Sylvia's sister Louise. There's also Mr. Novelle and movie producer Weissman, womanizing Denton and butlers and maids. One evening William gets poisned and subsuqently stabbed with a knife. Inspector Thompson suspects everyone, but fails to find the perpetrator. William was stabbed by butler Robert because he discovered that he was his father who left him in an orphanage. He was also poisned by Jane, Robert's mother.

"Gosford Park" marked the third comeback of Robert Altman, once again brining back his talent, this time mixing motives from Agatha Christie's 'who-dun-it' crime novels and Renoir's "Rules of the Game", especially obvious from the sequence of hunting in nature. As a whole, it's a very good film, slightly overhyped, without energy or enthusiasm, but still a one that everyone involved can be proud off - Altman finally won a Golden Globe as best director, but surprisingly once again lost the Oscar, this time to - believe it or not - Ron Howard! The best situations are humorous: producer Weissman is played by Bob Balaban, the real producer of "Gosford Park"; everyone is trying to suck-up to the rich Sylvia which causes one guest to comment with: "Even Sylvia's fart is more interesting than a heart attack of some unknown mother"; one butler gets surprised he won't have to take care for the clothes of Mr. Novelle which causes one colleague to add: "Now you're surely dissappointed you won't see him in his underpants". The finale cleverly completes the crime tangle and is elegantly directed, even though the dispersion of the characters is noticeable.


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