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Monday, November 04, 2002

DVD Review: Gosford Park

The witty barbs tossed around in Gosford Park could leave a body-count that even Jason Part Two Billion (coming soon, of course) couldn't match. Many viewers will want to see this movie just for a well-dressed, deceitful, and possibly gay character played by Ryan Phillipe, and who can blame them? Phillipe is a handsome and clever actor. But Maggie Smith really makes the movie, with her quiet little insults and her gentle scene-stealing.

The movie is as much about the servants in Gosford Park as about the well-to-do characters who pretend to deserve our attention more. Director Robert Altman brilliantly plays the two sets of characters off each other, toying with their similarities without ignoring the class differences and injustices that keep them apart. Those similarities first become obvious when one of the new arrivals learns that she will be known not by her own name but by the name of the woman she serves.

I wouldn't call this a great comedy, or a great mystery, though it strives to be both. Still, I would call it a great showcase of brilliant acting and clever one-liners. The 1930s period costumes and the character studies make it even more enchanting.