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GOSFORD PARK

Something different from quintessentially American filmmaker Robert Altman--a starry ensemble of British players in a 1930's drawing-room murder mystery

(Now in stores)

CAST: Eileen Atkins, Bob Balaban, Alan Bates, Charles Dance, Stephen Fry, Michael Gambon, Richard E. Grant, Tom Hollander, Derek Jacobi, Kelly Macdonald, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Northam, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillippe, Camilla Rutherford, Maggie Smith, Geraldine Somerville, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sophie Thompson, Emily Watson, James Wilby

DIRECTOR: Robert Altman


"... a melt-in-your-mouth hunk of 12-layer English spice cake that will appeal to anyone who feels a nostalgic pang for the long-running British television series 'Upstairs Downstairs, or for the cozy whodunits of Agatha Christie...a virtuoso ensemble piece to rival the director's 'Nashville' and 'Short Cuts' in its masterly interweaving of multiple characters and subplots... The performances, for the most part, are so pitch-perfect that you needn't pay close attention to the film's complicated plot to have fun... The vision of Maggie Smith as Constance, the Countess of Trentham, peering down her nose while dispensing barbed little pearls of imperious condescension and cruelty to one and all is almost sinfully delicious." --Stephen Holden, The New York Times

'''Gosford Park'' is Altman's 'Masterpiece Theatre' movie, all right, but it's an elegantly topsy-turvy one--a succulent and devious drawing-room mystery that, in its panoramic way, takes a puckish pleasure in scrambling and reshuffling the worlds of upstairs and downstairs...'Gosford Park,' seductive as it is, isn't finally one of the great Altman films. It never approaches the visionary passion of 'Nashville,' the scalding satirical audacity of 'The Player.' Yet it's full of moments to savor." --Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

"Some advance talk has compared this Robert Altman movie to Jean Renoir's classic 'Rules of the Game,' and it does bear a resemblance to that work...But there's a world of difference between Renoir's generous humanism and Altman's crabbed misanthropy; between Renolir's seamless structures and Altman's slapdash splatter; between Renoir's coherence and Altman's smugness." --Glenn Kenny, Premiere

" As with many of Altman's large-scale ensemble pieces, 'Gosford Park' is a love affair between performer and filmmaker. The director shows off his ardor by eliciting from his actors aspects of their gifts that they themselves may not have known they had...Altman is a supreme artist-joker, and the jest this time is that the most American of film directors has given us a finely wrought British whodunit with the emotional layering of a first-rate novel." --Peter Rainer, New York

"... a bit like a ponderously elaborate game of Clue...Throughout the first 80-something minutes of this 137-minute movie, Altman interweaves interconnections among two dozen or so characters, employing short, vaguely portentous scenes and snippets of overlapping dialogue to indirectly provide nuggets of expository and biographical detail...You have to be attentive to every word, every gesture, while registering the headlong rush of information. And to be honest, I still can't figure out the whys and wherefores of some characters, even after two viewings of the film." --Joe Leydon, San Francisco Examiner

"Robert Altman's 'Gosford Park' isn't much more than marvelous entertainment--but then, that's a lot right there ... it's great fun to find yourself plunked into the middle of a party, one at which anything might happen...'Gosford Park' is filled with small but splendid performances, like miniatures painted on ivory...although Altman is a great filmmaker, this movie doesn't have the feel of a grand and imposing work of art being handed down to the little people. It's more like a sly wink between the filmmaker and his audience." --Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com

"Though Altman is more interested in the servants than in the aristocrats of 'Gosford Park,' he deftly sketches an entire social panorama, capturing the complexities of both classes in this upstairs-downstairs universe. The troubled marriages of the lords and ladies, the sexual secrets of the servants and the insecurities on both sides of the social divide all come through potently...'Gosford Park' has perhaps the most dazzling cast that Altman has ever assembled... Maggie Smith is gloriously funny... Emily Watson and Helen Mirren bring touching dignity to their roles... Clive Owen conveys tension and smoldering sexuality, and Kelly Macdonald is endearing... Only one actor seems out of place in the ensemble, and that's vapid pretty boy Ryan Phillippe, but Altman cleverly uses his amateurishness as part of the plot." --Stephen Farber, Movieline