Dear faithful readers, happy Stephen Fry Appreciation Monday!
Today we will take a look at Gosford Park.
I have to be honest with you, I am not much of a Robert Altman fan. There I have said, I know the man is supposed to be brilliant and whatnot, however his films always leave me feeling annoyed.
It is not even that I have short attention span (heavens I have managed to follow Memento) but Altman’s signature thing to have all the characters (ok maybe not all of them but 2/3 anyway) all in the same room talking at and over each other annoy the living Beeyesus out of me.
Certainly it is all in the aid of portraying the delicate and complicated relationships between the characters but still it does sort of defies the purpose if you have to struggle to understand what one person is saying let alone a dozen of them as it usually the case.
Call me a blond inapt at multitasking, but there you have it and as I said it is purely subjective.
I got Gosford Park because even though it said Altman on the box the lure of Clive Owen was too much to resist (I first clapped eyes on him in Second Sight and have been intrigued ever since). Well Clive Owen and the cast that was simply astounding – Helen Mirren, Emily Watson, Jeremy Northam, Michael Gambone, Kristen Scott Thomas and our lovely Mr. Fry, so I thought it cannot be that bad.
And it was not I quite enjoyed it. I do have to give a word of advice if I may – due to Altman’s style and a superb script you should see this film twice as it is physically impossible to catch everything in one viewing.
Although it is supposed to be a classical whodunit, the murder that takes place is actually a side story to the main theme – the exploration of class relationships in 1930s England and the upstairs – downstairs divide.
As Altman acutely observes, it is not only about the upstairs – downstairs divide, but also about the hierarchy that is apparent in both the world of masters and the world of servants. The worlds collide on daily basis, however everything is tolerable as long as one is discreet about it. And while one would think that such a gaping divide could not be crossed Altman shows in his delicate way how connected all of the protagonists are.
The snobbery, the entitlement, the idleness, the desperation and resignation and lets not forget the snarky comments are just some of the wide range of emotions and states that are virtually palpable in this film. I have seen a fair few of Altman films (so you cannot say I have not tried to like the fellow), but this is the one I liked the best.
Not to give too many spoilers for anyone that has not seen the film our lovely Mr. Fry plays a somewhat dimwitted inspector Thomson who is called to investigate the murder. Bless him he can even play dimwitted fools (without falling about) to great effect.
So if you fancy a chewy, yes a chewy, period drama with a bit of Agatha Christie reminiscent crime and intrigue thrown in for a good measure, I would suggest Gosford Park – it will not disappoint.