Gosford Park

2001

Gosford Park (2001)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: A mixture of Upstairs, Downstairs, Clue, and perceptive social commentary, Gosford Park ranks among director Altman's best.

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Movie Info

Maverick American filmmaker Robert Altman takes a witty and absorbing look at the foibles of the British class system in this intelligent murder mystery set in the early '30s. Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) and his wife Lady Sylvia (Kristin Scott Thomas) are a pair of wealthy British socialites who have invited a variety of friends, relatives, and acquaintances to their mansion in the country for a weekend of hunting and relaxation. Among the honored guests are Constance (Maggie Smith), Lady Sylvia's matronly aunt; Ivor Novello (Jeremy Northam), William's cousin who is also a well-known actor and songwriter; and Morris Weissman (Bob Balaban), an American film producer who is friendly with Ivor and researching an upcoming project. Observing the proceedings are the domestic staff of the mansion, including imperious butler Jennings (Alan Bates); footmen George (Richard E. Grant) and Arthur (Jeremy Swift); Probert (Derek Jacobi), a valet to Sir William; housekeeper Mrs. Wilson (Helen Mirren); Mrs. Croft (Eileen Atkins), who oversees the kitchen; and Elsie (Emily Watson), a maid. Also on hand are the guests' personal servants, including Mary (Kelly Macdonald), Constance's maid; Henry (Ryan Phillippe), Weissman's valet; and Parks (Clive Owens), a butler. While the servants are required to display a high level of decorum, they are expected to be passive observers who do not comment on what they see, though the gossip among them travels thick and fast once they retire to the servants' quarters downstairs. And it turns out that there's plenty worth gossiping about, especially after Sir William turns up dead, and everyone is ordered to stay at the mansion while the police investigate the killing. Gosford Park also features Charles Dance, Tom Hollander, Natasha Wightman, and Ron Webster; the screenplay was written by Julian Fellowes, based on a story by Altman and co-star Bob Balaban. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Cast

Michael Gambon
as Sir William McCordle
Kristin Scott Thomas
as Lady Sylvia McCordle
Maggie Smith
as Constance, Countess of Trentham
Helen Mirren
as Mrs. Wilson
Eileen Atkins
as Mrs. Croft
Kelly Macdonald
as Mary Maceachran
Bob Balaban
as Morris Weissman
Alan Bates
as Jennings
Jeremy Northam
as Ivor Novello
Derek Jacobi
as Probert
Camilla Rutherford
as Isobel McCordle
Geraldine Somerville
as Louisa Stockbridge
Charles Dance
as Raymond Stockbridge
Stephen Fry
as Insp. Thompson
Ryan Phillippe
as Henry Denton
Tom Hollander
as Anthony Meredith
Clive Owen
as Robert Parks
Natasha Wightman
as Lavinia Meredith
James Wilby
as The Hon. Freddie Nesbitt
Claudie Blakley
as Mabel Nesbitt
Laurence Fox
as Lord Rupert Standish
Trent Ford
as Jeremy Blond
Jeremy Swift
as Arthur, Second Footman
Meg Wynn Owen
as Lewis, Lady Sylvia's Maid
Sophie Thompson
as Dorothy, Still Room Maid
Teresa Churcher
as Bertha, Head Kitchen Maid
Sarah Flind
as Ellen, Junior Kitchen Maid
Lucy Cohu
as Lottie, Junior Kitchen Maid
Finty Williams
as Janet, Housemaid
Emma Buckley
as May, Housemaid
Laura Harling
as Ethel, Scullery Maid
Tilly Gerrard
as Maud, Scullery Maid
Will Beer
as Albert, Servants Hall Footman
Gregor Henderson-Begg
as Fred, Bootboy
Leo Bill
as Jim, Oddjob Man
Ron Puttock
as Strutt, Gamekeeper
Adrian Preater
as McCordles' loader
Joanna Maude
as Renee, Louisa's Maid
Adrian Scarborough
as Barnes, Anthony's Valet
Frances Low
as Sarah, Lavinia's Maid
John Atterbury
as Merriman, Constance's Chaffeur
Frank Thornton
as Burkett, Constance's Butler
Ron Webster
as Constable Dexter
John Cox
as Loader
Ken Davies
as Loader
Alan Bland
as beater
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News & Interviews for Gosford Park

Critic Reviews for Gosford Park

All Critics (157) | Top Critics (35)

Taking advantage of a splendid cast, a sharply focused script and the fresh English setting, "Gosford Park" emerges as one of the most satisfying of Robert Altman's numerous ensemble pictures.

Jul 6, 2010
Variety
Top Critic

Gosford is fine, well-groomed entertainment, but the road it takes has already been well paved.

Sep 29, 2008
Newsweek
Top Critic

Altman's unexpected venture into Agatha Christie territory works a treat.

Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

A scintillating comedy-drama and one of [Altman's] most richly moving and entertaining pictures.

Jul 20, 2002 | Rating: 4/4

Is there anyone but Altman who could have pulled off such an effervescent mix of satire, affection, and devastating rebuke? And attracted such an ensemble? And let everyone work at this high level?

Mar 22, 2002 | Full Review…
Slate
Top Critic

Altman is a supreme artist-joker, and the jest this time is that the most American of film directors has given us a finely wrought British whodunit with the emotional layering of a first-rate novel.

Jan 22, 2002

Audience Reviews for Gosford Park

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Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Mrs. Wilson: I'm the perfect servant; I have no life.  "Tea At Four. Dinner At Eight. Murder At Midnight." Well Gosford Park wasn't as amazing as I hoped it would be. It's packaged as a murder mystery, but really all it is, is servants gossiping about the higher class and the higher class gossiping about their fellow higher class. The whole murder thing only takes about an hour of the movie, and even then it doesn't really drive the film.  The first hour and fifteen minutes of the film is devoted to getting to know the huge cast of characters. There's so many characters to keep track of. You got all these servants and maids, and then there's all the higher class. No wonder so much time had to be devoted to character development, there's just so many of them. We get to see the life of both the upper class and servants during a weekend stay at a rich mans house. Then the man whose house everyone is at is killed and a detective is brought in, who ends up questioning a lot of people. The movie didn't play out like your standard dinner party murder mystery, where someone is killed and everyone stands around in a big group and tries to figure out who did it. It's grounded, for better or worse, in reality.  What makes this movie a worthwhile film is a huge and talented cast. Maggie Smith, Clive Owen,  Helen Mirren, Ryan Phillipe; and the cast goes on and on and on and on. My favorite performance came from one of the smaller names, Kelly McDonald who plays a maid and is the one who actually pieces the whole thing together and figures out what happened. The performances go a long way in keeping this slow meandering plot going.  I can't say whether I liked this or not. I liked the idea of it and the acting was outrageously good. In the end though, I was left sort of underwhelmed. Hardcore Altman fans are probably in love with this film, but for me, it's just another movie, albeit with one of the best ensemble casts ever configured. Whether or not you'll like it will depend on your ability to watch really talky movies and still find it intriguing. I normally can, but by the hour mark I was kind of ofer the whole gossip thing.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Excellent movie! One of the best period pieces I've seen in a while.

One of the best and most noticeable features of this film is great cast. There are so many big names in this film, British names to be specific...in fact basically every English actor is in this. With this in mind, I had high expectations. The cast delivered. This film is wonderfully acted, with excellent performances from everyone, especially Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Kristen Scott Thomas, and Emily Watson.

Another thing that really stuck out to me was how solid of a period piece this is. The film studies the British class system of the 1930's, and I really felt like I was therein the era. The sets were all stunning and elaborate, as were the wonderful costumes and props. Everything about the appearance of the film was top-notch. An extremely well made film.

Also the script was great...very powerful and effective. It deserved its Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The story that went along with that was also great. The film is slow, but it does eventually lead of to a murder. This is the main focus of the film, but at the same time it emphasizes the entangled relationships of everyone in the house. I think that's the reason this film suceeds.

Overall, I think this is a great film. Nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, this is a must-see film!

Jameson Worley
Jameson Worley

Super Reviewer

½

It's the early 1930s and a group of wealthy Britons and an American, along with their servants, all gather at an English country house for a shooting party. All goes along decently well enough until the host, Sir William McCordle is found murdered. From there the film explores the murder investigation from the perspectives of both the servants and the guests. This is some really fun stuff. It's an ensemble darkly comedic whodunit murder mystery period piece, but it's also so much more than that. Yes, a murder is the film's centerpiece, but it's also a finely observed examination of the British class system and the upper class's dependency on servants. The film also touches upon the state of the British Empire during the interwar period, sexual mores of the time, and gay issues, primarily that of the questionable reltionship between the American film producer and his valet. I think that Agatha Christie style whodunits are just fine, but I really appreciated that this film was more than that and tried be entertaining but also provided some insight into the decline of the aristocratic way of life. Robert Altman was a great choice for this, and the results are not disappointing, as this is a wonderful film and a great entry in his oeuvre. It's got all his trademarks, most notably the ensemble cast made up primarily (though not exclusivly) of a who's who's of actors and actressess from the U.K. It took me a bit to get used to trying to keep the interconnectedness of all the players straight, but once I got the hang out it, I found myself thoroughly entertained. I did have to put the subtitles on, but that's no big thing. The script is quite sharp and filled with all sorts of fun twists, turns, and set ups for who did it and why. This is a rather lengthy film, but I really didn't seem to notice it all that much. Everything just cruises right along and all of the exposition is just juicy and fascinating stuff. The cinematography, art direction, and set design are top notch, and the large cast put in some tremendous work. I especially enjoyed Maggie Smith, Kelly Macdonald, and Ryan Phillippe. Oh yeah, and Michael Gambon. He's great too. You should really check this out. It's a fantastically done film that's super entertaining and oh so British. Hats way off.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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