Set in the 1930s, the story takes place in an old-fashioned English country house where a weekend shooting party is underway. The story centers on the McCordle family, particularly the man of the house, William McCordle. Getting on in years, William has become benefactor to many of his relatives and friends. As the weekend goes on, secrets are revealed, and it seems everyone, above stairs and below, wants a piece of William and his money, but how far will they go to get it?Written by
When Mrs. Croft and the cook are counting the knives, servants are bringing the candelabra from the dining room down the stairs. Then the gentlemen are in the dining room, where the candelabra are still lit. See more »
In this exhilarating chambre piece, set in a mansion during the 1930s, Robert Altman meticulously explores the social interaction between the English aristocracy and their servants. Class distinction is demonstrated funnily between the people who live above the stairs and those who live below. It is especially the interaction between the characters, who clearly dislike one another but are forced by circumstance (due to various obligations) to practice social rituals, that provides some of the most amusing cinematic moments. It is all done with clever subtlety.
Bob Balaban and Robert Altmann story idea combined with Fellowes's eloquent writing is first rate. The dialogues are filled with wit, humour and subtle depth. The mansion itself plays a key character in the story but it is the spellbinding cinematography that functions as the mansion's eyes. The camera is constantly on the move and the viewer feels like an ignored but curious member of the crowd. Many themes are tackled in the movie but it is done quietly. The film also slowly demonstrates the disintegration of the English class system (that started around the war).
Altman has assembled a mountain of talented actors that include a bitchy Maggie Smith, a pompous Michael Gambon, an obnoxious Kristin Scott Thomas, a vulnerable Camilla Rutherford, a desperate Tom Hollander, a devil-may-care Geraldine Somerville, a knows-where-he-stands Jeremy Northam, a douchebag Bob Balaban, a horny Ryan Phillipe, a stupid Stephen Fry, a loyal Sophie Thompson, a principled Helen Mirren, an enigmatic Clive Owen, a no-nonsense Emily Watson, a not-to-be-messed-with Richard E. Grant, a pulling-it-together Derek Jacobi, a frightened Alan Bates, a grumpy Eileen Atkins and an adorable Kelly Macdonald. 'Gosford Park' has one of the best ensemble cast.
I also loved the soundtrack. It is never overdone. The jazzy tracks contribute well in setting the atmosphere and there are some wonderful songs performed by Jeremy Northam's character.
In the beginning, it is a little difficult to keep up with the names of the characters which leads to a bit of confusion but with a little bit of patience, once you're over that, it becomes easy to follow. Like a beautiful painting, once it captivates the viewers attention it immediately involves them in an alternate world. From the start, you feel like an ignored guest and at the end it's as though the host has just seen you out.
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