Robert Altman's new film Gosford Park premiered on Wednesday night at the Odeon Leicester Square. As I made my way to the press screening Nic Wiestrich filled me in on the Altman legend, explaining that he was an absolute genius, but also getting on a little. This seemed to make sense as, from what I'd read, Goswell Park sounded like a straightforward Cluedo style murder set in a grand English country house. I'd therefore imagined a film styled rather like a BBC drama with a few glaring 'Americanisms', which we'd later all have great fun grimacing over. Yet from the moment the 'sour old trout', the Countess of Trentham stepped into her Rolls I was totally immersed in the amusing, snobbish, and promiscuous ongoings. Suddenly a dull country shoot turns into a hilarious sketch as lords, ladies and servants begin scurrying around corridors jumping in and out of beds and pantries.
The unsurprising murder comes quite late in the film and at this point the plot doesn't really do much to keep you at the edge of your seat. You have a pretty good idea of who the dastardly murderer is from the start and you're never too curious to find out if you've second guessed the detective. But fortunately that's not what the film's really about, and it's characters like Richard E. Grant, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Maggie Smith that make the film really worth watching. Throughout you're never bored of these 'quaint old Brits' who certainly don't believe in the uniquely 'British' values of decency and fair play. Instead it's all about breeding!, and it's a brilliant addition to the 45th Regus London Film Festival.