Review Date: December 22, 2001
Director: Robert Altman
Writer: Julian Fellowes
Producers: Robert Altman, David Levy
Kristen Scott Thomas as Lady Sylvia
Ryan Phillippe as Henry Denton
Emily Watson as Elsie
I guess it also doesn't help that I've never really bought into the whole blue-blood, royal family, upper class, elitist bullshit that still stinks up many nations today. Having grown up in a working class family, I'm afraid that I never really saw the appeal of looking up to those who generally do nothing more than look down on everyone else and exploit the riches which they'd been randomly handed at birth. But that's more of a personal attack. The truth is that this film sucks enough on its own. For example, at some point, it actually attempts to inject some kind of direction into its mindless ramblings by killing off its central character, but the rest of the people in the story just don't give a shit about the man's death. Everybody just seems to go about their business like nothing ever happened...what the --?!? Now I might not be an aristocrat or anything, but I know enough to say that a death usually affects human beings in one way or the other. Here, nobody seems to act any differently, confusing me even more about the point of this film in the first place. By the way, the mystery of the murder is barely intriguing in itself, and once resolved, brings even less weight to the proceedings. And if all of this was supposed to be a comedy, then excuse me, but I must have missed every single joke (save for the inspector, who was a decent goof for the few minutes that he joined the fray). Then again, maybe the jokes were too high-brow or "clever" for my appetite...who knows! And to be honest...who cares! There was no one or no thing in this movie that I gave half a crap about as it was winding down and performance-wise, the only person who really stood out was Maggie Smith and the aforementioned Phillipe. The rest just muddled about, barely given a few moments to shine, while others were grossly underused. This is for pure Altman fans only or for real-life "film critics" who usually enjoy lame-ass, pretentious flicks like this one (no surprise, it's already racked up several "critics circle" awards). This type of movie reminds me of why I started to contribute my own reviews to the Net, since I believe many film critics' high-brow, artsy sensibilities have lost touch with regular audiences. This film is a great example of that dichotomy.