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Film Review: Gosford Park

Altman tries his hand with a English period drama...

Robert Altman tackles the period drama in Gosford Park. Anybody who remembers the old show 'Upstairs, downstairs' will be familiar with the plot i.e. the shenanigans of servants and their masters in a country residence.

Gosford ParkA star studded cast of British hams play the roles of gentry and servants in 1930s England. In typical Altman style numerous stories and characters intertwine, with a murder mystery and more at the heart of the story. The first part of the movie plays like a fly on the wall documentary, taking us back in time to when a class system existed, where servants were willing slaves, proud to be ?in service?, and look after every whim of their master. Post-murder, in the second part of the film, the plot develops, to a predictable but satisfying end. There is lots to enjoy from the actors: Stephen Fry as a bumbling detective, a crooning Jeremy Northam and a seductive Catherine Scott Thomas being just a few of the highlights.

Juggling all the stories is not easy, some characters and sub-plots are lost along the way, while there is tedium in the detail. An original take on a familiar story, Gosford Park is the board game Cluedo, with a bit of sleaze and more intrigue added.

Kevin Smith

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