28 February 2002 | Mezzotint91
A review of a great film
Violence, mystery, sex, and murder, Gosford Park has it all. Director Robert Altman once again takes the Hollywood formula and gives a unique twist. The story begins when aristocrats during 1932 gather at Sir William McCordle's (Michael Gambon) estate for a shooting party. The guests are wealthy people with their trusty servants. People arrive at the McCordle estate two by two and the traditions begin. The servants set up dinner for their masters and the aristocrats begin their personal routines.
The story moves on as the characters begin to establish their names and the audience learns their varying social status. The intertwining stories among the guests begin to surface and the audience begins to realize there is much more in this house than what meets the eye.
During the night one member of the elite group is killed. None of the guests seemed to be fazed by this event and are only upset by the inconvenience it sets up for their lives.
The only one troubled is Constance, Countess of Trentham's maid, Mary (Kelly McDonald). The story begins to focus on Mary, who discovers secrets among the visitors and leads the audience to solve the mystery.
The great aspect about this film is Robert Altman's abilities to bring the past to life. He pays excellent attention to detail and is able to recreate the feelings and morals during the time period. He emerges the audience into a film world filled with history and story. Throughout the film Altman visually shows the audience the contrast between social classes through his various shots, lighting techniques, and camera filters. His fluid camera movements visually portray foreshadowing and relationship among characters. These elements give the audience a complete understanding of the mood and atmosphere in the film.
I recommend this movie to anybody who has the patience to sit and focus on this excellent film. Although the beginning is appropriately slow moving and the characters names are difficult to remember, the payoff is worth the efforts. This movie is made for active film viewers and all Robert Altman fans.