REVIEW: SPECIAL CORRESPONDENTS

CAST

Eric Bana (Hulk)
Ricky Gervais (Ghost Town)
Vera Margia (Bates Motel)
Kelly Macdonald (Trainspotting)
Benjamin Bratt (Doctor Strange)
Kevin Pollak (Willow)
America Ferrera (Ugly Betty)
Raúl Castillo (Looking)
Ari Cohen (Brusier)
Meghan Heffern (The Fog)

News radio journalist Frank Bonneville (Eric Bana) enters a murder scene posing as a cop. After getting the details of the crime, he is removed from the premises and, immediately after, reports the story live on the radio. When he returns to the station, Frank is applauded by colleagues on getting the story before any other press, but his boss Geoffrey Mallard (Kevin Pollak) warns that if he breaks the law one more time, he’ll be fired. That night, everyman Ian Finch (Ricky Gervais), who is also Frank’s sound technician, takes his wife Eleanor (Vera Farmiga) to the station’s annual ball, but has to leave for a stake-out with co-worker Claire Maddox (Kelly Macdonald). Eleanor then meets Frank, who sleeps with her, unaware she is married to Finch. The following day, Mallard puts Frank on a story about an uprising in Ecuador, and assigns Finch to accompany him. However, Finch tells Frank he can’t go as Eleanor has left him. He also says he’s written a letter, begging her not to end their marriage.Finch later changes his mind about Ecuador, and he and Frank pack for their trip. At the airport, the two realize Finch has accidentally thrown their passports and plane tickets in a garbage truck. Frank and Finch return to the city and hide out at a café owned by Spanish couple Brigida and Domingo (America Ferrera and Raúl Castillo), located across the street from the radio station. With Brigida and Domingo’s help, Frank and Finch fake their war reports in the couple’s spare room. After Finch and Frank decide they need to cover a bigger story, they invent a man named Emilio Santiago Alvarez, whom they claim is elusive and closely linked to the war. This report alerts the U.S. government, who now believe that Frank and Finch are targets for Alvarez’s men. Meanwhile, Frank and Finch watch as other media outlets report on Alvarez, including their TV rival John Baker (Benjamin Bratt). Mallard calls Frank, asking for the two men to go to the U.S. embassy in Quito, where they will then be flown home. Panicking that they’ll be found out, Frank and Finch destroy their SIM cards so they cannot be traced.The next morning, Frank fails to check in with Mallard, worrying the station. The media begins reporting about Finch and Frank’s disappearance. Claire visits Eleanor to offer her sympathy, but Eleanor seems more interested in getting her story out. Frank and Finch stage a hostage situation, and send out a message to the President, asking for a ransom or they will be executed. Later, Frank and Finch watch as Eleanor appears on TV. This prompts Frank to find out about her identity as Finch’s wife. She then performs a song, “Dollar for a Hero”, appealing for their safe return. Eleanor subsequently becomes a national sensation and sets up a charity for Finch and Frank. Mallard asks Claire to get to know Eleanor, who is using her husband’s plight so she can start a singing career. Finch accepts Eleanor’s selfishness in the situation and says he’s no longer upset that she left him. On Finch’s birthday, he admits he can’t keep up the charade any longer. Finch and Frank stop off at his apartment to take some of the donated money, but Eleanor catches them. The three decide to split the cash so they can all get what they want. Frank and Finch drive cross-country and sail illegally to Ecuador. They hitch a ride to Quito from a local, but first stop off at a rundown bar. There, they are held at gunpoint and taken to a small village, where they are locked up. Thinking they’re going to die, Frank admits to Finch that he slept with Eleanor.The next morning, the captors demand ransom from Eleanor but she refuses and tells them to kill Frank and Finch. When a captor returns, planning for them to fight to the death, Frank steals his gun and Finch ends up shooting him. They escape by stealing a car, make it to the U.S. embassy, and are flown home on a private jet. On returning home, they are greeted by the Secretary of State, press, friends and family. Frank makes a speech, and Finch bypasses Eleanor to greet Domingo and Brigida. Eleanor then speaks to press about her upcoming album, while Finch takes off his wedding ring. He approaches Claire, whom he realizes likes him for who he is. The pair happily walk off towards the city together.2016_05_26special-640x345-640x345Ignore the harsh reviews. The film isn’t hilarious but is quite funny in places, Ricky has tried his hand here at something else and I believe pulled it off well. Highly recommended if you like Ricky Gervais’s work and want to see him try something different then go for it.

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REVIEW: INTERMISSION

CAST

Colin Farrell (Phone Booth)
Kelly Macdonald (Anna Karenina)
Cillian Murphy (Red Lights)
Colm Meaney (A Belfast Story)
Shirley Henderson (Filth)
David Wilmot (King Arthur)
Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones)
Brían F. O’Byrne (Flashforward)
Conleth Hill (Serena)

titanic_1996_facebook_cover_by_thetitaniac-d6kjbf1The film opens with a cashier being charmed by Lehiff (Colin Farrell) who after flirting with the girl smashes her in the face and steals from the till. It quickly moves to John (Cillian Murphy) and Deirdre (Kelly Macdonald) who are a recently separated young couple. The film will revolve around their extended friends. It is quickly revealed that Lehiff is a petty criminal always involved in trouble. Lehiff’s nemesis, Garda Detective Jerry Lynch (Colm Meaney) who presents himself as a saviour whose main mission is to fight the “scumbags” on Dublin’s streets. He enlists the help of Ben Campion (Tomás Ó Súilleabháin), an ambitious film-maker and the bane of his “go-softer” boss, who considers Lynch too nasty a subject to be shown on a mainstream “docusoap” series on Irish television.
image-w1280Next up is Mick (Brian F. O’Byrne) a Dublin bus driver. While on his route Sally (Shirley Henderson) boards and is shown to be deeply insecure about her looks. She asks Mick about some hair on her lip and he mocks her playfully. As the bus journey continues a young boy called Philip is shown throwing a rock at his bus resulting in a bad crash that Ben winds up shooting the aftermath of. Ben is told to focus his attention on Sally, Deirdre’s sister, who helped the passengers after the double-decker bus crashed. She grows bitter when Deirdre flaunts her new boyfriend, Sam (Michael McElhatton), a middle-aged bank manager who has left his wife of 14 years, Noeleen, leaving her to question her own self-worth as a woman and wife.
maxresdefaultJohn is utterly lost without Deirdre and is determined to win her back. Mick having become suspended from his job and low on funds come up with a scheme involving Lehiff and Sam. They kidnap Sam and force him to go to his bank to get money for a ransom. Just as the plan seems to be working out everything goes wrong as Sam, is assaulted by his enraged wife Noeleen on the street and Gardai are forced to intervene. Mick and John flee the scene without their money. Mick, later loses his job after he is wrongfully blamed for the bus crash and he becomes obsessed with taking revenge on the kid behind it called Philip. After chasing the kid down in his car he loses control and is left balancing over the canal. Philip is sitting on the bonnet and jumps off letting the car drop into the canal. Detective Lynch chases down and corners Lehiff in an open field, and decides to take him on while Ben films everything. Unfortunately he miscalculates and Lehiff gets the upper hand and threatens to kill him. Ben snatches at the gun and shoots Lehiff and Lynch covers it all up. As the credits roll, Noeleen and Sam are shown to have reunited in their house watching television. She is sitting purposely on the remote control and bullying him into changing the channels by hand.intermission-2003This film was a little hard to get into as it had several story lines going on at once. However everything became clear when they all merged together. Classic Irish film with all the colourful language you would expect from the gritty working class people the film portrayed.

REVIEW: HOUSE! (2000)

 

CAST

Kelly Macdonald (Brave)
Freddie Jones (Dune)
Miriam Margolyes (Babe)
Jason Hughes (Killing Me Softly)
Sian Rivers (The Miracle Maker)

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Set in a small South Wales town La Scala bingo hall is struggling to compete with the new, flashy complex that is opening on the other side of town. La Scala has been a family business for three generations, first a music hall then a variety theatre, next a cinema and now a bingo hall. Mr Anzani (Freddie Jones) the present Welsh/Italian owner tries desperately to keep the hall going as his regular clientele desert him to go to the new hi-tech centre. The star caller at La Scala (Jason Hughes) is also deserting the sinking ship to advance his career in the Bingo world. It is up to Linda (Kelly Macdonald) to save the day. Linda with her aunt (Miriam Margolyes) devise a fascinating scheme to put La Scala back on the map. Meanwhile Linda’s working colleague Kay (Mossie Smith) flirts outrageously with any man that comes across her path. She provides most of the laughs, the scene when she gets a soaking when the tank bursts is brilliant – it has to be seen to be believed.
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All the members of the cast are perfect in their roles – it is basically a young cast and obviously full of talent to look for in the future, especially Kelly Macdonald of Train Spotting fame. House is a very enjoyable film, there is nothing in it that could offend. No violence, only the odd swear word, no big special effects, no explicit sex scenes – how refreshing. It was good to be able to watch a film and be entertained, laugh at their antics, feel for their anguish and just feel that an enjoyable evening has been spent. House breezes along with bags of charm – it is a real gem.

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REVIEW: ANNA KARENINA (2012)


CAST

Keira Knightley (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Jude Law (Spy)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Godzilla)
Matthew Macfadyen (Enigma)
Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire)
Alicia Vikander (Jason Bourne)
Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
Ruth Wilson (The Lone Ranger)
Emily Watson (The Theory of Everything)
Michelle Dockery (Hanna)
Raphaël Personnaz (Three Words)
Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad)
Bill Skarsgård (Allegiant)
Alexander Roach (The Huntsman)

In 1874 Imperial Russia, Prince Stephan “Stiva” Oblonsky’s wife, Princess Daria “Dolly”, banishes her husband from their home due to his infidelity. Stiva’s sister, Anna Karenina, a well off and liked socialite living in St. Petersburg with her older husband, Count Alexei Karenin, and their son, Seryozha, travels to Moscow to persuade Dolly to forgive Stiva. Meanwhile, Stiva meets his old friend Konstantin Levin, a wealthy land owner and aristocrat who is looked down upon by Moscow’s elite for preferring country life to city life. Levin professes his love for Stiva’s sister-in-law, Princess Katerina “Kitty” Alexandrovna, and Stiva encourages him to propose. However, Kitty declines as she hopes to marry Count Alexei Vronsky. Later, Levin meets with his elder brother Nikolai, who has given up his inheritance and taken a prostitute named Masha as his wife. Nikolai suggests that Levin marry one of the peasants on his estate. On the train to Moscow, Anna meets Vronsky’s mother, Countess Vronskaya, and once there Anna meets Vronsky himself, and they have immediate mutual attraction. When a railway worker is killed in an accident at the station, Vronsky is seen by Anna, Stiva, and the Countess giving a large sum of money to the worker’s family. Anna convinces Dolly to take Stiva back. At a ball that night, Kitty attempts to dance with Vronsky, but he dances with Anna, attracting the attention of everyone in attendance and leaving Kitty heartbroken. Anna boards a train to St. Petersburg, but at a rest stop notices Vronsky, who declares that he must be wherever she goes. She tells him to go back to Moscow, but he refuses.
In St. Petersburg, Vronsky visits his cousin Princess Betsy Tverskaya, a friend of the Kareninas, and begins to show up at all the places Anna and Betsy visit. Vronsky flirts openly with Anna at a party, which catches Karenin’s attention. He suggests they go home, but Anna chooses to stay. Vronsky tells her of his intention to take a promotion in another city but Anna persuades him to stay and the next day they meet at a hotel and make love.
Stiva visits Levin at his country estate and informs Levin that Kitty and Vronsky are no longer to be married. Levin focuses on living an authentic country life, working in his fields with his workers and contemplating taking one of their daughters as his wife, as his brother had suggested.
Karenin hears that his wife and Vronsky are in the country estate and surprises them there, after she reveals to Vronsky that she is pregnant. Later she encounters Karenin who suggests he join them for the horse races that evening. The races begin, and Anna betrays her feelings for Vronsky as his horse falls and injures him. On their way home Anna admits to Karenin that she is Vronsky’s mistress and wishes to divorce him. Karenin refuses and instead confines her to home. Levin sees Kitty in a passing carriage and realises that he still loves her. Anna receives Vronsky at her house in St. Petersburg and as she complains about why he failed to come earlier, he tells her that his duties as an officer have delayed his visit. Karenin comes back home to find out that Vronsky was visiting Anna, as seen from the love letters found in her desk. Meanwhile, Levin and Kitty are reunited at Stiva’s house, and Karenin announces he is divorcing Anna, who begs him to forgive her, which he refuses. After dinner, Levin and Kitty announce their love to each other and decide to marry. Anna goes into premature labour. With Vronsky at her side, she berates him, saying that he could never be the man Karenin is. Karenin comes back knowing that she is going to die and forgives her. Anna survives and initially decides to stay with her husband. Princess Betsy calls on Anna to discuss what will happen with Vronsky now that he is back in Moscow. Anna suggests that Betsy better discuss it with Karenin, who believes that they will be reunited as a family. However, upon Anna’s recovery, she chooses to be with Vronsky. Karenin refuses to grant her a divorce, but releases Anna from her confinement. She and Vronsky soon leave for Italy with Anya.
Levin and Kitty return to his country estate, where the sickly Nikolai and Masha have been given a storeroom to live there. Levin tells Kitty that she doesn’t have to live under the same roof as the former prostitute, but the newly matured Kitty ignores social norms and assists Masha in nursing Nikolai.
Anna returns to St. Petersburg to see Seryozha on his birthday, but Karenin makes her leave after a short time. Anna now begins to suspect Vronsky of unfaithfulness. She attends the opera where the upper class audience regard her with disdain as someone who “has broken the rules”. Though humiliated, she retains her poise, only to break down once back at her hotel. The next day, Anna has lunch at a restaurant where the society women avoid her. Dolly, however, joins her and tells her that Kitty is in Moscow to have her first child. Dolly says that Stiva’s behavior has not changed, but she has come to accept and love him for who he is. Later, Vronsky informs Anna that he has to meet his mother to settle some accounts, but there Anna sees Princess Sorokina picking him up. Anna becomes upset, and takes the train to see if Vronsky is truly with his mother. On the way, she has hallucinations of Vronsky and Princess Sorokina making love and laughing at her. Arriving at Moscow station, Anna says to herself, “Oh God… ” and jumps under an oncoming train that kills her. The scene then flashes to Vronsky who has a shocked face as if knowing his true love has died. Levin returns home from working in the fields to find Kitty bathing their child. Stiva and his family eat with Levin and Kitty. Karenin, retired by then from serving his country, is seen in his estate, with Seryozha and young Anya playing nearby.Although I sympathise with those who may find the director Joe Wright’s approach too contrived, this film held my interest, and gives scope for a good deal of discussion.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART 2

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Helena Bonham Carter (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Kelly Macdonald (Anna Karenina)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
David Thewlis (Kingdom of Heaven)
Julie Walters (Dinnerladies)
Evanna Lynch (G.B.F.)
Domhnall Gleeson (Dredd)
Helen McCrory (The Woman In Black 2)
Ciarán Hinds (Munich)
Natalia Tena (Game of Thrones)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Bonnie Wright (The Sea)
Jim Broadbent (Superman 4)
Scarlett Byrne (The Vampire Diaries)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Emma Thompson (Junior)
Timothy Spall (Sweeney Todd)

After burying Dobby, Harry Potter asks the goblin Griphook to help him, Ron, and Hermione break into Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault at Gringotts bank, suspecting a Horcrux may be there. Griphook agrees, in exchange for the Sword of Gryffindor. Wandmaker Ollivander tells Harry that two wands taken from Malfoy Manor belonged to Bellatrix and to Draco Malfoy, but Malfoy’s has changed its allegiance to Harry.In Bellatrix’s vault, Harry discovers the Horcrux is Helga Hufflepuff’s cup. He retrieves it, but Griphook snatches the sword and abandons the trio, leaving them cornered by security. The three release the dragon guardian and flee on its back. Harry sees a vision of Voldemort killing goblins, including Griphook, and learns Voldemort is aware of the theft. Harry also realises there is a Horcrux at Hogwarts somehow connected to Rowena Ravenclaw. The trio apparate into Hogsmeade, where Aberforth Dumbledore reluctantly instructs the portrait of his deceased younger sister, Ariana, to fetch Neville Longbottom, who leads the trio through a secret passageway into Hogwarts.Severus Snape hears of Harry’s return and warns staff and students of punishment for aiding Harry. Harry confronts Snape, who flees after Minerva McGonagall challenges him to a duel. McGonagall gathers the Hogwarts community for battle. At Luna Lovegood’s insistence, Harry speaks to Helena Ravenclaw’s ghost, who reveals that Voldemort performed “dark magic” on her mother’s diadem, which is in the Room of Requirement. In the Chamber of Secrets, Ron and Hermione destroy the Horcrux cup with a Basilisk fang. In the Room of Requirement, Draco, Blaise Zabini and Gregory Goyle attack Harry after he finds the diadem, but Ron and Hermione intervene. Goyle casts a Fiendfyre curse and, unable to control it, is swallowed up by the flames while Harry and his friends save Malfoy and Zabini. Harry stabs the diadem with the Basilisk fang and Ron kicks it into the Room of Requirement, where it is destroyed. As Voldemort’s army attacks, Harry, seeing into Voldemort’s mind, realises that Voldemort’s snake Nagini is the final Horcrux. After entering the boathouse, the trio witness Voldemort incorrectly telling Snape that the Elder Wand cannot serve Voldemort until Snape dies since he killed its last owner (Dumbledore); he then orders Nagini to kill Snape, which Nagini does. Before dying, Snape tells Harry to take his memories to the Pensieve. In the chaos at Hogwarts, Fred, Lupin, and Tonks have been killed.Harry learns from Snape’s memories that Snape loved Harry’s late mother, Lily, but despised his father, James, who had bullied him. Following her death, Snape worked secretly with Dumbledore to protect Harry from Voldemort because of his love for Lily. Harry also learns Dumbledore wanted Snape to kill him, and that the Patronus doe he saw in the woods that led him to the sword had been conjured by Snape. Harry discovers that he himself became a Horcrux when Voldemort originally failed to kill him and that Harry must die to destroy the piece of Voldemort’s soul within him. Harry then surrenders himself to Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest. Voldemort casts the Killing Curse upon Harry, who finds himself in limbo, where Dumbledore’s spirit meets him and explains that the part of Voldemort within Harry was killed by Voldemort’s own curse. Harry then returns to his body, determined to defeat Voldemort once and for all.Voldemort announces Harry’s apparent death to everyone at Hogwarts and demands they all surrender. As Neville gives a defiant response and draws the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat, Harry reveals he is still alive. While Harry confronts Voldemort in a duel throughout the castle, Molly Weasley kills Bellatrix in the Great Hall, and Neville decapitates Nagini, leaving Voldemort mortal. Harry and Voldemort’s fight ends with Voldemort’s own Killing Curse rebounding, killing and obliterating him. After the battle, Harry explains to Ron and Hermione that the Elder Wand had recognised him as its true master because he had disarmed Draco, who earlier had disarmed its previous owner, Dumbledore, but instead of claiming the Elder Wand, Harry breaks and discards it. Nineteen years later, Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Draco proudly watch their own children leave for Hogwarts at King’s Cross station.What an amazing achievement to faithfully bring Rowling’s epic saga to the big screen with the same cast and largely the same crew, maintaining the brilliant quality right to the end.

REVIEW: FINDING NEVERLAND

CAST

Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands)
Kate Winslet (Insurgent)
Julie Christie (Troy)
Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black)
Dustin Hoffman (I Heart Huckabees)
Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel)
Joe Prospero (My Uncle Silas)
Ian Hart (Enemy of The State)
Kelly Macdonald (Trainspotting)
Mackenzie Crook (Almost Human)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)

The story focuses on Scottish writer J. M. Barrie, his platonic relationship with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies, and his close friendship with her sons named George, Jack, Peter, and Michael, who inspire the classic play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Never Grew Up.

Following the dismal reception of his latest play, Little Mary, Barrie meets the widowed Sylvia and her four young sons in Kensington Gardens, and a strong friendship develops between them. He proves to be a great playmate and surrogate father figure for the boys, and their imaginative antics give him ideas which he incorporates into a play about boys who do not want to grow up, especially one named after troubled young Peter Llewelyn Davies. Although Barrie sees this family as wonderful and inspirational, people question his relationship with the Llewelyn Davies family. Sylvia was a widow: her husband died from cancer and left her with four boys to raise on her own. Barrie’s wife Mary, who eventually divorces him, and Sylvia’s mother Emma du Maurier, object to the amount of time Barrie spends with the Llewelyn Davies family. Emma also seeks to control her daughter and grandsons, especially as Sylvia becomes increasingly weak from an unidentified illness. Along the way, Barrie goes on these adventures with Sylvia and her boys. He too is a boy at heart and spending time with the family is special. Barrie and his wife did not have any children of their own. Barrie takes those adventures he has with the boys and sees within them and makes it into a play, Peter Pan.
Producer Charles Frohman skeptically agrees to mount Peter Pan, despite his belief that it holds no appeal for upper-class theatergoers. Barrie peppers the opening night audience with children from a nearby orphanage, and the adults present react to their infectious delight with an appreciation of their own. The play proves to be a huge success. Barrie is all set for his play, but when Peter arrives alone to the play, Barrie goes to Sylvia’s house to check up on her, and misses the show. Peter attends the play and realizes the play is about his brothers and Barrie.  Sylvia is too ill to attend the production, so Barrie arranges to have an abridged production of it performed in her home. He gets the actors, props, and musicians together in the Llewelyn Davies house. At the end of the play, Peter Pan points to the back doors and implies that Sylvia should go off to Neverland. She takes the hands of her boys and slowly walks out into Neverland. The living room and backyard transform into Neverland and Sylvia continues to walk on her own.

In the next scene everyone is at Sylvia’s funeral. Barrie discovers that her will says that he and her mother should look after the boys, an arrangement agreeable to both. The film ends with J. M. Barrie finding Peter on the bench in the park where they first met after Peter ran off from the graveyard. Peter is holding his book where he wrote the plays that he ripped apart and that his mother glued back together for him. Barrie sits down and puts his arm around Peter to comfort him. They both fade, and all that is left is the bench.

Peter Pan’s story may be told repeatedly, the process and struggles of his conception by Barrie have been done more than adequate justice by this film. It is a visual feast that will interest adults and children alike, and may be the best alternative to other failing versions of Peter Pan as it tells the story of the original boy who never grew up

 

REVIEW: GOSFORD PARK

CAST
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Kristin Scott Thomas (Mission Impossible)
Camilla Rutherford (Rome)
Charles Dance (Game of Thrones)
Clive Owen (Sin City)
Helen Mirren (Red)
Geraldine Somerville (Harry Potter)
Ryan Phillippe (Cruel Intentions)
Emily Watson (Red Dragon)
Tom Hollander (Valkyrie)
Stephen Fry (Bones)
Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire)
Natasha Wightman (V For Vendetta)
Jeremy Northan (The Net)
Bob Balaban (The Monuments Men)
Trent Ford (The Vampire Diaries)
Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood)
Alan Bates (The Sum of All Fears)
Derek Jacobi (Gladiator)
Richard E. Grant (Dracula)
In November 1932, Constance, Countess of Trentham (Maggie Smith), and her lady’s maid, Mary MacEachran (Kelly Macdonald) travel to Gosford Park for the weekend. On the way, they encounter actor Ivor Novello (Jeremy Northam), American film producer Morris Weissman (Bob Balaban) and Weissman’s valet, Henry Denton (Ryan Phillippe). At the house, they are greeted by Lady Trentham’s niece Lady Sylvia McCordle (Kristin Scott Thomas), her husband Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon), and their daughter, Isobel (Camilla Rutherford). The other guests include Lady Sylvia’s sisters, Louisa, Lady Stockbridge (Geraldine Somerville) and Lady Lavinia Meredith (Natasha Wightman) and their husbands, Raymond, Lord Stockbridge (Charles Dance) and Commander Anthony Meredith (Tom Hollander). Also in attendance are the Honourable Freddie Nesbitt (James Wilby) and his wife, Mabel (Claudie Blakley); Isobel’s suitor, Lord Rupert Standish (Laurence Fox) and his friend Jeremy Blond (Trent Ford).
Commander Meredith is in financial difficulty and brings up the matter with Sir William, who reveals that he is rescinding his investment in Meredith’s new business scheme. Sir William also reveals privately to Lady Sylvia that he may stop paying Lady Trentham’s allowance. Mary and Lord Stockbridge’s valet, Parks (Clive Owen), are attracted to one another and exchange pleasantries. Denton asks a number of questions about life in service and Parks reveals that he was brought up in an orphanage. Denton meets Lady Sylvia and during the night, he goes to her room.
The next morning the men go out early on a pheasant shoot, and Sir William is slightly injured by a low shot. Later, the ladies join the gentlemen for an outdoor luncheon on the estate grounds, where Commander Meredith pleads with Sir William to not back out of the investment, breaking decorum by grabbing Sir William’s arm and causing him to shatter his cocktail glass on the ground. While dressing for dinner, Lady Trentham and Mary are visited by Lady Sylvia, who reveals that Sir William is in a terrible mood with all of his guests after the events of the weekend and that he may stop paying his wife’s aunt her allowance. Lady Trentham is upset by this, and tersely tells Mary to be discreet about this unwelcome news (after having encouraged her to share downstairs gossip about the other guests).
Dinner that evening is tense and sombre, with the announcement that Commander Meredith will be leaving in the morning and that he now must prepare for bankruptcy thanks in part to Sir William’s withdrawal of his investment—news to which Sir William reacts with callous indifference. As the conversation progresses, tempers flare and Lady Sylvia attacks Sir William, implying that he was a First World War profiteer. The head housemaid, Elsie (Emily Watson), rises to his defence, breaking the class barrier, and thus revealing her affair with Sir William to everyone at the table. Everyone watches in shocked silence at this indiscretion, and Elsie hurries from the room—knowing that she will be dismissed.  Sir William abruptly storms away from the dinner table and goes to the library, where the housekeeper, Mrs. Wilson (Helen Mirren) brings him coffee. He demands a glass of whisky instead. Lady Sylvia asks Mr. Novello to entertain the guests. George (Richard E. Grant, first footman), Parks, Mr. Nesbitt and Commander Meredith disappear and an unknown person goes to the library and stabs Sir William as he sits slumped in his chair. Minutes later, Lady Stockbridge goes to the library to entice Sir William to return to the party and her screams bring everyone to the room. Commander Meredith and Mr. Nesbitt do not offer an explanation of their disappearances, while George says he was fetching milk for the coffee service and Parks claims to have been fetching hot water bottles. Inspector Thompson (Stephen Fry) and Constable Dexter (Ron Webster) arrive to investigate the murder. Dexter suggests that Sir William was already dead when he was stabbed. It is eventually surmised that Sir William was poisoned before being stabbed. Denton confesses to Jennings (Alan Bates), the butler, that he is not a valet but an American actor preparing for a film role. The next morning, Lady Sylvia goes for her usual morning ride, which surprises Inspector Thompson. Barnes (Adrian Scarborough) overhears Commander Meredith tell Lady Lavinia that Sir William’s death was lucky for them, as the investment is now secure. Barnes tells Inspector Thompson, who interrogates Meredith.
Mrs. Croft (Eileen Atkins) tells the kitchen maid, Bertha (Teresa Churcher), that Sir William was known for seducing the women working in his factories. If a woman became pregnant, Sir William offered two choices: keep the baby and lose your job, or give the baby up and keep your job. Those who gave up their babies were told that the adoptions were being arranged with good families. In reality, Sir William paid squalid orphanages to take the children. Mary goes to Parks’ room and tells him that she knows he is the murderer. Parks tells her that he discovered Sir William was his father, entered service and attempted to gain employment with someone in his circle. Parks tells Mary that he did not poison Sir William and Mary is relieved, as Parks only stabbed the corpse. Mary listens to Lady Sylvia and Lady Constance discussing why Mrs. Croft and Mrs. Wilson are enemies. Lady Sylvia believes that the tension between them stems from the fact that Mrs. Wilson now outranks Mrs. Croft. Lady Constance asks if Mrs. Wilson was ever married and Lady Sylvia replies that her name was once Parks or Parker. Mary goes to Mrs. Wilson and the older woman reveals that she poisoned Sir William to protect her son, because she knew that Parks was there to kill Sir William. She also reveals that she and Mrs. Croft are sisters. After talking to Dorothy (Sophie Thompson), Mrs. Wilson goes to her room distraught and is comforted by Mrs. Croft.
The guests drive away with the dismissed Elsie joining them, though she has taken an unusual souvenir from the house — Sir William’s pet dog. Lady Sylvia waves good-bye to her guests and re-enters Gosford Park, while Jennings closes the doors.
Superbly written with a twist in the tale well worth two hours of anyones time hugely entertaining