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Classy Gosford Park Is a Mysterious Treat

  • Holly McClure Movie Reviewer
  • 2001 12 Dec
  • COMMENTS
Classy <I>Gosford Park</I> Is a Mysterious Treat
Gosford Park - R

Best for: Mature audiences.

What it's about: In 1932, a crowd of nobles and socialites gathers at an English estate called Gosford Park, owned by Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) and his wife, Lady Sylvia (Kristin Scott Thomas). The various guests (Camilla Rutherford, Maggie Smith, James Wilby, Natasha Wightman, Geraldine Somerville, Charles Dance, Tom Hollander, Claude Blakley, Laurence Fox, Trent Ford, Jeremy Northram and Bob Balaban) have gathered for a weekend of socializing, friendship and hunting. The hard-working staff of butlers, maids, cooks and valets (Alan Bates, Helen Mirren, Eilleen Atkins, Emily Watson, Kelly Macdonald, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillippe, and Richard E. Grant) become increasingly suspicious of the guests and are eventually suspects in Sir McCordle’s death. Inspector Thompson (Stephen Fry) is called in to investigate the mysterious death.

The good: Director Robert Altman has created a movie that plays like a game of Clue, with an incredibly talented cast that flawlessly delivers an interesting adult comedy/mystery. The surface story focuses on the societal hierarchy among the elite and the relationships they have with their servants, but as the mystery begins to unravel, the movie reveals the hatred many in the household feel toward Sir William and toward each other.

I enjoy period pieces that are detailed, with great costumes, accents and sets, and this one is interesting in that it shows the servants' lifestyle as well. I enjoyed this British who-done-it on several levels.

The not-so-good: Adult issues (about illegitimacy, infant death, giving away a child, etc.) and several sexual situations that take place between the guests and servants make this a movie for mature audiences only. There's also a murder (not bloody) and an interesting family secret that's shockingly revealed. Various characters drink, smoke and talk about these adult issues.

Offensive language: At least 7 "F"-words, some crude language and some disparaging homosexual comments.

Sexual situations: A man stands in front of a table with a woman's legs wrapped around his boxer shorts. After a man pulls a woman into his bedroom supposedly to save her from being discovered in the wrong part of the manor, he tries to seduce her, and she yells for him to get off. We see a nude woman in a bathtub with her bare back exposed.

Violence: The murder is committed with a knife, but it's not bloody or graphic.

Parental advisory: This is an interesting character study dealing with several adult issues. Adults will find the film interesting, but it's not for older kids or teens.