This film is trying to be both a murder mystery and social commentary, but is infinitely more interested in the latter (to the point where the final revelation of the killer is very underwhelming). Altman has his usual large ensemble, but only the "downstairs" characters feel distinctive and fleshed-out. It's a case where Altman has a large canvas and a full palette, but the final product just feels lacking.
This is probably the slowest movie I've ever seen that I wasn't bored for a second watching. What really matters to who, and why? Despite its comic cynicism I found it to be strangely warm by the film's end. The more I think about this movie the more I like it, and I think that's the sign of a truly great film.
Besides creating a great dark comedy in Gosford Park, Robert Altman and Julian Fellowes created a chronicle of costumes which they used to criticize the futile, snob, frivolous, adulterous and provincial personalities from the early 30s. This one is, undoubtedly, a great movie filled with substance and criticism, and I'd absolutely recommend this to the lovers of Renoir's The Rules of the Game.
A brilliant script with a brilliant director makes a movie so delightful and charming like «Gosford Park». The life of the upstairs and the downstairs worlds is told with very irony and sarcasm, in one of Altman's greatest social commentaries.
A gripping film from start to finish, however slow-paced it may seem to an unprepared viewer who expects a typical enigmatic story in a lugubrious setting a la Agatha Christie. What is critical here lies beyond the borders of an ordinary cliffhanger. Altman's brainchild is more about the atmosphere of an old English manor and brilliant performances of Kristin Scott Thomas, Helen Mirren, Clive Owen and Emily Watson.
I can't explain how amazing this movie is. I've seen it dozens of times and it's only better with each subsequent viewing. I have yet to be bored, and more and more elements of the plot and character development continue to reveal themselves. This may be the best-written movie of all time, and the cinematography is nothing to sneer at either.