[Screen It]


(2001) (Maggie Smith, Emily Watson) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Heavy Minor Heavy Minor Moderate
Minor None None None Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Heavy Heavy Moderate Mild *Heavy

Drama: As their servants try to accommodate their every need, various socialites assemble for a shooting party that eventually leads to murder.
It's November 1932 and various family members and friends have descended upon Gosford Park - a sprawling country estate owned by Sir William McCordle (MICHAEL GAMBON) and his wife, Lady Sylvia (KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS) -- for a shooting party. Among them is their daughter, Isobel (CAMILLA RUTHERFORD); her haughty great aunt, Constance (MAGGIE SMITH); and Sylvia's sisters Louisa (GERALDINE SOMERVILLE) and Lavinia (NATASHA WIGHTMAN) and their husbands, Raymond (CHARLES DANCE) and Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Meredith (TOM HOLLANDER).

Then there's Freddie Nesbitt (JAMES WILBY) who married Mabel (CLAUDIE BLAKLEY) only to discover that her family money was limited; Lord Rupert Standish (LAURENCE FOX) who's courting Isobel, and his friend Jeremy Blond (TRENT FORD); as well as Ivor Novello (JEREMY NORTHAM) a famous actor, and Hollywood producer Morris Weissman (BOB BALABAN) who makes Charlie Chan pictures.

Meanwhile, the "below stairs" staff of butlers, maids, cooks and valets try to make sure everything goes smoothly for their employers. Among them is Jennings (ALAN BATES), the head butler who runs the manor with Mrs. Wilson (HELEN MIRREN), the housekeeper. Mrs. Croft (EILEEN ATKINS) runs the kitchen and doesn't get along with Mrs. Wilson, while Elsie (EMILY WATSON) is the head housemaid who's having an affair with Sir William.

She takes Mary Maceachran (KELLY MACDONALD), Constance's maid who's new to serving others, under her wing and shows her the ropes that includes ignoring the peccadilloes of other staffers such as Bertha (TERESA CHURCHER) who's occasionally caught in compromising positions. Meanwhile, visiting valets Robert Parks (CLIVE OWEN) and Henry Denton (RYAN PHILLIPPE) - who work for Raymond and Morris respectively - have aroused different reactions from the rest of the staff. While some of them, such as first footman George (RICHARD E. GRANT) become increasingly suspicious of Henry, Robert's guarded comments on growing up in an orphanage elicit some sympathy from the others.

None of that emotion is directed at Sir William, however, as most don't like or get along with him. Not surprisingly, tensions mount and someone ends up dead, resulting in the arrival of buffoonish Inspector Thompson (STEPHEN FRY) and his more efficient assistant, Constable Dexter (ROB WEBSTER) who investigate the murder.

As they attempt to discover exactly what led up to the act and the identity of who's responsible, the various members of the above and below-stairs worlds react to that and their various personal issues.

Unless they're fans of someone in the cast, director Robert Altman, or period costume dramas, it doesn't seem very likely.
For some language and brief sexuality.
  • MICHAEL GAMBON plays the old and surly lord of the manor who drinks, smokes, and is having an affair with Elsie.
  • KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS plays his snobbish and aloof wife who smokes and has an affair with Henry.
  • MAGGIE SMITH plays an older relative of theirs who has a condescending attitude toward others.
  • JEREMY NORTHAM plays a visiting movie star who entertains the guests with his piano playing and singing. He also smokes.
  • BOB BALABAN plays a Hollywood producer who uses strong profanity.
  • JAMES WILBY plays a man who has a bad attitude toward his wife after learning that her family money - his reason for marrying her - was not as plentiful as expected.
  • CLAUDIE BLAKLEY plays his wife who must then put up with his attitudes toward her.
  • ALAN BATES plays the head butler who's drunk in one scene.
  • HELEN MIRREN plays the head housekeeper who doesn't like Croft.
  • EILEEN ATKINS plays the head of the kitchen who doesn't like Wilson.
  • EMILY WATSON plays the head housemaid who takes Mary under her wing, smokes, and is having an affair with Sir William.
  • RICHARD E. GRANT plays the first footman who smokes and is suspicious of Henry.
  • KELLY MACDONALD plays Constance's young and inexperienced maid who tries to learn the ropes of servitude as quickly as possible.
  • CLIVE OWEN plays a visiting and mysterious valet who smokes and was brought up in an orphanage.
  • RYAN PHILLIPPE plays Weissman's valet who acts a bit odd in the eyes of the other servants.
  • STEPHEN FRY plays an oblivious and buffoonish police inspector who overlooks various clues and investigatory detective protocol while working the murder case.
  • ROB WEBSTER plays his more intelligent and resourceful assistant.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 7 "f" words, while a handful of other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Some heterosexual and homosexual connotations are made, while a couple is seen having sex (with movement but no nudity or sounds) and other encounters are implied or occur off camera.

    Some of them involve married people (men and women) having affairs (that, along with other material, result in some tense family scenes), while other bad attitudes are present, including those regarding a murder. That knifing is briefly seen, but is presented in an old-fashioned way with no blood or gore and little suspense. Meanwhile, a man briefly tries to force himself on a woman and some pheasants are shot during a shooting party.

    Beyond all of that, various characters drink and/or smoke throughout the film. If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

  • Sir William drinks.
  • Various characters drink.
  • Various characters have wine with dinner, while various men have drinks after dinner.
  • Henry asks Mary if she wants a drink, but she just wants out of his bedroom. He later drinks with Parks who downs his drink.
  • Various characters have what appear to be Bloody Marys.
  • George drinks leftover wine, while another man drinks.
  • Sir William tells a servant to bring him some whiskey.
  • Henry shows up at Elsie's room, believing she could use something to drink (we later see him drinking from the bottle).
  • Henry has some bourbon, while Weissman has a drink.
  • We see a bottle next to Jennings and he's drunk.
  • Jennings drinks from a flask while still drunk.
  • We see various pheasants being shot from the sky during a hunt (no blood, but we do see some of them being hit).
  • Sir William tries to kiss another woman who moves out of the way (he's otherwise something of a surly sort through most of the film).
  • Various people are disrespectful or demeaning to some of the servants.
  • A man is disrespectful to his wife.
  • Freddie is attempting to blackmail Isobel.
  • After Henry pulls Mary into his bedroom under the pretenses of "saving her" from being discovered in the wrong part of the manor, he then pins her to the bed and tries to kiss her as she struggles, yelling for him to get off her.
  • There's some implied fooling around between Henry and Sylvia (despite her being married), while we learn that William and Elsie were having an affair as well.
  • Sir William purposefully knocks a cup of coffee from a servant's hands.
  • The killer (or killers) obviously has a bad attitude.
  • For those sensitive about violence to animals, we see various pheasants being shot from the sky during a hunt.
  • We see a person pulling out a knife as they slowly approach someone to kill them.
  • Shotguns: Used by the men for pheasant hunting.
  • Pistol: Seen being cleaned by Sir William.
  • Knife: Used to stab a person in the back (not graphically seen).
  • Phrases: "I'm f*cking desperate," "I don't give a sh*t," "Same old sh*t," "Don't have a pot to pee in" and "Bastard."
  • George purposefully spills coffee into Henry's lap.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 7 "f" words, 2 "s" words, 2 damns, 1 hell, 1 S.O.B., 3 uses of "For God's Sakes" and 1 use each of "Christ," "God" and "Dear God" as exclamations.
  • One male servant tells another that he won't be able to see another man "in his drawers," but the context of that is never made perfectly clear.
  • A man states that he's wiping some hair from Elsie's chest, but in reality is doing so in order to touch her clothed breast.
  • Henry asks Sylvia if she has trouble sleeping, she replies that she'll be awake at 1 a.m., and he then states that they need to think of something to amuse her (all said with slight sexual overtones). Later, Weissman asks if he'll be seeing Henry later that night, and Henry replies that they shouldn't risk it (a possible sexual connotation, although it could have something to do with a nonsexual revelation that later occurs).
  • Mary walks into a room at night and comes across a couple having sex (with the man standing between another maid's spread legs and moving, but there are no sounds or nudity and despite the man's pants being down, his shirt covers his butt). They stop when they realize someone else is in the room.
  • There's some implied fooling around between Henry and Sylvia.
  • We see Mary's bare back as she bathes.
  • Elsie shows some cleavage as she bends over in a slip. We then see her bare back as she bathes.
  • Henry asks Sylvia if she needs company and we then see him trying to undo her dress. It's implied that they fool around during the film.
  • A classic statue shows bare breasts and the side of the figure's bare butt.
  • We see the maid from the above sex scene getting dressed after more apparent fooling around and/or sex.
  • Sylvia and Elsie each smoke around 5 times, while George, Parks, Constance, Bertha, Ivor and Thompson (pipe) smoke several times, while various characters smoke cigarettes and/or cigars, such as Sir William, Raymond, Isobel, Mrs. Croft and Lady Stockbridge.
  • We hear that Parks grew up in an orphanage.
  • Sir William and Sylvia are not happily married and argue in front of others.
  • Freddie and Mabel don't have a happy marriage either.
  • We learn of some other tense family material regarding a man and his father as well as two sisters (one of whom gave up her baby long ago and another whose infant died).
  • The societal hierarchy among the elite and their servants as presented in this film.
  • Parks occasionally comments on growing up in an orphanage, and we learn that someone else gave up a child long ago.
  • A man violently grabs his wife's arm during an argument.
  • After Henry pulls Mary into his bedroom under the pretenses of "saving her" from being discovered in the wrong part of the manor, he then pins her to the bed and tries to kiss her as she struggles, yelling for him to get off her.
  • We see various pheasants being shot from the sky during a hunt. During that, Sir William is nicked by a shot, but there's no blood.
  • A person stabs another person, presumably killing them (with no blood), but we later learn that the person may have already been dead.

  • Reviewed December 11, 2001 / Posted January 4, 2002

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