Gosford Park (2001) — A serious version of Clue

“You Brits don’t laugh much, do you?”

Andie’s rating: Why would anyone want to kill him twice? It’s what we call ‘overkill.’ It’s what we call ‘psychotic.’

Andie’s review: I saw Gosford Park the other night and now I know what all the fuss is about. It is a tightly woven classic whodunit in the tradition of Agatha Christie, and it delighted me to no end. I loved the cast, the costumes, the setting and the intrigue. It was a well-done mystery with only a few flaws.

First the cast. Terrific casting. My favorite was veteran actress Maggie Smith as Constance. She is such a great spunky old lady who’ll say whatever she wants and doesn’t care who hears. She’s so delightfully snobby, you can’t help but just laugh at her constantly. The entire cast playing servants, cooks, butlers, etc are great. They have their own little world, completely separate from their bosses and I love to see what they’re up to. I also was laughing a lot at the two detectives called in to investigate. The one in charge just completely ignores his partner, even though the partner is continually discovering important clues. It’s done well, not over the top but not subtle enough so you’d miss it.

I also really enjoyed the actress playing Mabel, a woman who is not particularly pretty and everyone knows her husband married her for her money. She makes Mabel a woman we sympathize with and also cheer for. She’s a good combination of strong, reserved and subtle. And of course, Ryan Phillippe as Henry Denton. Quite a far cry from Cruel Intentions, I must say. I loved him as a hormone-crazed valet/playboy who basically just drives everyone crazy. But I could on about the cast forever. It’s huge and everyone is good.

The movie is set in 1932, so the costumes and the decor of sprawling Gosford Park are magnificent. I love that time period, all the dresses are lovely and the house is a wonderful monstrosity. I can only hope to someday have a house like that. The whole movie reminds me of a serious version of the movie Clue. There are obvious differences, but it’s the same fashion of mystery.

The intrigue is the best part. You know going into the movie that someone will be killed and you’re just impatiently waiting for it to happen. When it finally does, the movie has already established who amongst the guests has a good reason to kill the host. It also does a great job of focusing on just which guests are missing from the main room when the murder occurs. We get to see them all slowly return, one by one, and you honestly don’t know which one did it. It also throws in the dramatic twist of having the corpse be killed twice, first with poison and then stabbed by someone else. Now there are two killers on the loose, dear me!

My only qualms with the movie is that at times, the British accents are hard to understand. Also, it took me forever to get the relationships all straightened out. Who is married, who works together, who is blood related, etc. etc. It was probably 2/3 of the way through the movie when I was still piecing that together. And my big complaint is the ending. I’m not going to give it away, I liked the solution of the crime. I just don’t like how it was revealed. Only one character figured it out and through her we get to know who the killers are. Since the movie already has such a great whodunit feel to it, I would’ve liked to have seen a great climax where the murderers and motives were revealed. But that was not the case and I understand why, but it didn’t seem to fit with the style of the rest of the movie.

Overall, Gosford Park is a terrific little film. The humor is there, but not over the top, and the plot twists and intrigue and relationship confusion adds to the fun of the mystery. I would say this is definitely one to see before Oscar time.

One comment

  1. I think the reason why only one person figures out who killed the victim is very important. It speaks volumes about the class structure of Britain at that time.

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