|Gosford Park sports a cast larger than the audiences during the opening night of a Harry Potter movie, but the marvel is that it doesn't get confusing. Each of the actors plays a part that's unique and interesting. It's got a great cast and a better than average script that make this film a quick two hours. It's probably not a film that will attract a lot of football players, but this movie has an engaging storyline and a lot of humor which make it pretty entertaining. It never gets boring and it never slows down. perhaps it's because there are just so many characters in the film.|
The story is always leaping to another set of people so any slowness isn't noticeable. And all of the characters are important as well. And the actors ain't half bad either. It seems that the casting directors here gathered up all the most famous actors in England and placed them together in this film. One of the best things about the script is the fact that so many people were introduced in the first half hour or so of the film, and yet it was easy to tell all of them apart. It may have been because each of the characters had a different set of characteristics or it also might have been the dialogue. Whatever the reason, it seems that all the elements of this movie just fit so well together that the whole experience is more than entertaining.
That's quite grandiose praise, but without one explosion or car crash this film manages to jump along a quite a good clip, never getting boring. And that's perhaps one of the most dangerous aspects of creating a period film. Movies like this can get long and uneventful, but Gosford Park is neither. Of course, the best performance in the film has to go to Maggie Smith. Her lines were hilarious and the were delivered with just the right timing and tone.
One of the quirks of her character (she plays an elderly titled woman) is that she has no compunction in saying exactly what she thinks. Even if it's mean spirited or something about a person standing right in front of her. in one scene, she has a line that goes something like "there's no reason to wear a different dress every night." She's referring to one of the poorer guests of the house party who has worn the same evening dress to dinner on multiple nights. And the woman who's been insulted by Maggie's character is only standing just a few feet away. Throughout the film, Maggie says terrible things to people, but nobody ever thinks to insult her.
And if they try, Maggie says something just as insulting back. A great delivery and set of lines make her character one of the most entertaining of the film. And aside from being filled with fine performances, this film also does a good job of dealing with the social commentary of the upstairs and downstairs politics and social standings of the people who live in giant country houses and the people who work for them. It's a dynamic that has been shown in other films, but never so humorously. It's actually refreshing how the film is constructed so that the upper class people look like the snobs they are and the servants are the smart people in the house.
That's not to say that the house owners and the titled folk are painted as dumbbells, but their dependence on their servants is pretty funny. Maggie Smith probably has the best handle on playing this part. Her relationship with her ladies maid is in some spots actually hilarious. It's rare that a period film, even one with humor, can create such hilarious scenes. And nobody has to tell a single fart joke. It's hard to craft a story around so many characters, but this film does it through good writing. Gosford Park has one of the best scripts to come around in a long time.
It works a load of characters into a script, and allows them all to have their moments. And the comedy is funny through dialogue, rather than through the physical machinations of the actors. There are no fart jokes or toilet jokes or things that need an actor to slip and fall on a banana peel to be funny. This film's humor could only be described as classy. This script has a lot of talent behind it and the high caliber actors that play these roles do justice to the script. Perhaps one of the only failings of the film is that there isn't a specific character that could be considered the "main" character of the film.
This is only a drawback because when the culprit of the murder is revealed, it seems as though the film is already over and that it doesn't really matter who the murderer was. Perhaps that was the filmmakers' intent: to create a film whose characters were more important than the story. It can be a good goal, but only when the characters are actually interesting enough to make themselves more important than the plot itself. And for the most part, this film succeeds. On many fronts. The set direction, the acting, the script, and the direction are all executed on a high level of filmmaking.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.