A quick skim at the summery and one concludes that this film is a classic murder mystery. All the rich people are invited to the McCordle’s house for a weekend of shooting and acting rich with their servants waiting hand and foot on them. Then boom! Mr. McCordleis dead. And whodunit? Wait…that’s the plot, but not the style…let me start over.
The McCordle’s invite their aristocratic friends for a weekend at their mansion for some shooting. Nearly every guest has a personal servant. The guests stay upstairs and the servants buzz like busy bees below. Gossip and secrets fly and spread like an illness, it seems that everyone has a reason to hate Mr. McCordle (Michael Gambon) or they just want his money. This is all before the murder happens, over an hour into the film. From there, the suspicions rise, but no one really laments the death. It’s just more juicy gossip and a catalyst for more secrets to seep out.
To be honest, this film is a little boring. There’s not much action and the bulk of the film is listening to everyone talk. The viewer sometimes feels like you’re eavesdropping on everything. I blame this feeling on the camera always slightly moving, like you’re walking ever so slowly across the room, or slightly turning your head. This little camera trick just makes the viewer feel like they’re in the room as well, instead of being fixed outside of the screen on their sofa.
The only reason this film has an R rating is because director, Robert Altman didn’t want kids to see the film. Well think about it, kids would get bored in ten minutes and start a popcorn fight in the theater chanting for the murder to happen already. By simply adding the F-word several times Altman sealed his R rating and kept those brats out, brilliant!
To keep it simple, if you’re looking for a classic whodunit with Miss Scarlet and Professor Plum, keep looking. If you want a quieter and sophisticated twisting look at a murder mystery filled with secret lives, complex clues and slight twists Gosford Park is right up your alley.
“If there’s one thing I don’t look for in a maid, its discretion. Except with my own secrets, of course.”