Film: Gosford Park

Opened: February 1, 2002

Directed by: Robert Altman

Starring: Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Kristin Scott Thomas, Camilla Rutherford, Charles Dance, Geraldine Somerville, Tom Hollander, Natasha Wightman, James Wilby, Claudie Blakely, Jeremy Northam, Bob Balaban, Ryan Phillippe, Laurence Fox, Trent Ford, Kelly Macdonald, Clive Owen, Helen Mirren, Eileen Atkins, Alan Bates, Emily Watson, Derek Jacobi, Richard E. Grant, Jeremy Swift, Sophie Thompson, Meg Wynn Owen, Adrian Scarborough, Stephen Fry, Rob Webster & Frank Thornton

Fans of Downton Abbey will feel an air of familiarity in this earlier piece from screenwriter Julian Fellowes.

Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) and Lady Sylvia McCordle (Kristin Scott Thomas) hold a shooting party at their estate, Gosford Park, with several guests in attendance. The servants downstairs – headed by Mrs. Wilson (Helen Mirren) and Mr. Jennings (Alan Bates) – gossip as an event rattles the entire party.

Though the film moves at a slower pace – the main action doesn’t happen until more than halfway through – it is filled with Fellowes’ smart dialogue. Maggie Smith is the best and steals every scene she’s in.

There’s definitely a want for this to be an Agatha Christie-type piece, but the death and the killer’s reveal is lacking the spark that would make this perfect.

Final say: Dull murder, but great banter. ★★★★☆

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