Gosford Park
Upstairs. The posh people party while their servants shuffle around below.
dir Robert Altman scr Julian Fellowes
with Kelly Macdonald, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillippe, Kristin Scott Thomas, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Alan Bates, Derek Jacobi, Helen Mirren, Eileen Atkins, Emily Watson, Stephen Fry, Richard E Grant, Jeremy Northam, Bob Balaban, James Wilby, Claudie Blakley, Tom Hollander, Charles Dance, Sophie Thompson, Laurence Fox, Geraldine Somerville, Camilla Rutherford, Trent Ford
release US 21.Dec.01; UK 1.Feb.02
USAFilms 01/UK 2h10

5 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
you are invited... After a series of clever but unexceptional "little" movies, Altman emerges with one of the best films of his career (which is saying a lot), juggling a complex plot and a huge cast in a thoroughly entertaining British comedy-mystery. It's November 1932, and Gosford Park is the manor house at which Sir William (Gambon) is hosting a shooting party. His guests arrive with servants in tow, and soon we are following plots, secrets, gossip and tensions both upstairs and downstairs--with snobs and liars in both places ... and murder on the cards.

It's impossible to namecheck everyone in the cast here, but the central character is Mary (Macdonald), maid to the crotchety Countess Constance (Smith). Mary's the one through whom we navigate the story, figuring out who is telling the truth and, most importantly, whodunit. But Altman, Fellowes and the actors work together to create such memorable characters that as we get to know them and the way their lives are intertwined, we can find the motives ourselves. And there's not a weak link in the entire cast, most of whom shamelessly (and delightfully) steal scenes from each other! The film is jammed with details on every side--in the writing, directing and performances--all of which bring to life the people and places. It's clever, smart and very funny, often in extremely subtle ways. And amid the terrific character studies, we get a wonderful examination of the fading English social system, an intriguing mystery and even a well-aimed jab at Hollywood itself. Watching the film is like feasting on a sumptuous meal--we savour every single second and never want it to end.
adult themes and situations, language cert 15 7.Nov.01 lff

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
you are invited... send your review to Shadows... Barbara, New York: "When you live in the NY area films are big here ... but after being shut out to see Gosford Park on Saturday I quickly (online) bought tickets to 10:30am Sunday show. I expected to be there with about three other people. By 10:15 people were fighting for seats and now I know why. This film is fabulous ... it's funny and charming and Altman moves you around so much you never ever get bored. The characters share equal weight in their performances. Kristin Scott Thomas and Ryan Phillipe somehow outshine the rest with their beauty and presence ... but the staff and the relatives that make up the rest of the cast are all intricately woven. Each character is more important than the next. Altman has taken us all on a joyride for the weekend on an English estate with a story and acting that no one has seen before. A must see." (30.Dec.01)

Cornellius Willliams, Cornwall: 5 out of 5 stars "It was the best film of all time. The characters and acting were super. No fault. I thought that Helen Mirren should have won that Oscar. I loved Eileen Atkins as well. Did anyone notice at the end of the film she made a sort of fishface when she was on the bed with Helen, about to hug her? It was hiliarious. I laugh every time. I loved the English and pomp of it. You mastered the snooty nature of us English very well. Well done, chaps! Maggs Smith, What can I say? You did good, hun, you did good. Great film. Watch it, I command you all." (3.Oct.03)

2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall