We gave it an A
Admit it: you loved Gosford Park, but you didn’t really get it. At least not all of it. Don’t feel bad. With 35 featured characters speaking in sometimes thick British accents — often simultaneously, thanks to director Robert Altman’s signature overlapping dialogue — it’s hard to pick up every nuance on first viewing. Which makes watching it on video, with the rewind button at your thumb tip, an even greater pleasure. (DVD enthusiasts can also take advantage of the English subtitles option to savor every syllable of Julian Fellowes’ Academy Award-winning screenplay.)
A return trip to the ’30s country estate that houses an Agatha Christie-style whodunit also allows viewers a deeper appreciation of the subtler ensemble members, like Clive Owen and Ryan Phillippe, whose brooding work as valets-with-secrets may have been initially overshadowed by the Oscar-nominated performances of Maggie Smith and Helen Mirren. But ”Gosford”’s real star is Altman, who juggles the panoply of subplots with aplomb and gooses the stuffy English costume genre with a refreshing sense of American fun. It’s his most purely entertaining movie since 1970’s M*A*S*H. Remind us again: Why did he lose Best Director to Ron Howard?