Saturday, 30 September 2017

''Gosford Park'' (2001 film)- Review

Directed by: Robert Altman
Released: 2001
Country: United Kingdom

Genre: Mystery, Drama

Rating: 5 out of 5


What a perfect film ''Gosford Park'' is! I loved every minute of it.

The events of ''Gosford Park'' take place over the course of a single weekend in 1932. Sir William McCordle (played by Michael Gambon) is a wealthy industrialist, although he comes from a humble background. He is married to Sylvia (played by Kristin Scott Thomas), who comes from the titled aristocracy. Sylvia is snobbish, and although she married Sir William for his money, she looks down on him as he wasn't born into wealth. Sir William and Sylvia invite a number of people for a weekend hunting party which they will be organizing at Gosford Park, an estate they own. Among the people invited to the party are relatives of Lady Sylvia's, a couple of distinguished men from Hollywood and other acquaintances. But there are other people as well. All these distinguished guests have brought with them servants- lady's maids and valets- and the servants will be staying ''below stairs'' with the servants of the household. It is a typical British country house and below the stairs, servants occupy a world of their own, a world that has its own hierarchies. Over the course of the weekend, we get to know a lot about the hosts, the guests and the servants. Quarrels and little problems arise and after Sir William is found murdered in the library, Inspector Thompson (played by Stephen Fry) comes to Gosford Park to investigate. Several of the people present in Gosford Park during the party had motives to kill Sir William...

''Gosford Park'' is not merely a mystery film. It is so much more than that. The mystery is an element of the film, but what is much more engrossing is just how complex and layered the story is. There is such a vast array of characters; at first I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep track of all of them but eventually, over the course of the film, each character turned out to be unique. Many of the characters are hiding layers of secrets and lies. Within a single weekend life fully changes for some of the characters we meet.

As for the cast, it was such a joy to see Michael Gambon, Eileen Atkins, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith,  Stephen Fry, Charles Dance, Geraldine Somerville, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emily Watson, Kelly Macdonald, Clive Owen and Ryan Phillippe (to name but a few) in the same film! Like I have already said, every single character was unique and fleshed out, and these great actors brought their characters to life.

''Gosford Park'' is a social commentary as well, depicting how life was like in those great country houses. The employers and the servants lived in the same house, but occupied two completely different worlds. The employers did not have to worry about anything; the servants were there to take care of the needs. The servants, in their part of the house, maintained a hierarchy as well. The housekeeper and the butler reigned supreme; how they would sit at the dining table would be based on how senior the servant was. Lady Sylvia looks down on those who weren't into money- which includes her own husband. She looks down on Mabel, a guest who does not from an aristocratic background. On the other hand, she is in friendly terms with her lady's maid. I guess that was because the division between the employers and servants was so clear, so conspicuous that her lady's maid would never be a threat to her and as such Lady Sylvia (and others of her class) found it fully acceptable to be in friendly terms with her lady's maid but not with someone like Mabel, who would be staying in the same part of the house as an equal. However, in the eyes of someone as snobbish as Sylvia, people like Mabel could never be their equals.

I really loved ''Gosford Park''. Everything I love about a great story was present there: complex characters, intertwined subplots and hidden twists. 

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