In GosfordPark, Robert Altman has fused the popular whodunits of Agatha Christie with the social mannerisms and satires of P.G. Wodehouse, making the end effect a charming who-is-the-killer tale and a pointed look into the 30’s class structure in Britain. An ensemble film if there ever was one, Altman managed to keep the numerous characters and the freely wavering narrative just about in control as he presents a couple of days into the lives of a group of English aristocrats, on vacation at a huge manor, with their array of servants, maids, butlers and what not. And amidst their weekend of hunting, gossiping and fine dining, the host ends up dead in his library; and if that wasn’t enough, he is discovered to have been killed twice! The whodunit structure, though, acts largely as a prop for the narrative as Altman uses most of his energy at caricaturing and satirizing those residing upstairs, the ones living downstairs, and the numerous staircases that form symbolic conduits between the two disparate groups. On surface the more aristocratic counterparts are happy with their cocktails, bridge games, expensive couture and their trademark stiff upper lips; but scratch a bit and you find that jealousy, adultery, narcissism, opportunism and bloated egos abound in plenty. Too many cooks oftentimes spoil the broth as it is difficult to paint so many characters in a limited time frame. Thankfully the actors did a good job in keeping one interested.
Director: Robert Altman Genre: Drama/Comedy/Social Satire/Mystery/Comedy of Manners/Ensemble Film Language: English Country: US/UK