The story opens in 1932, at the country estate of Lord and Lady McCordle; guests arriving for the weekend include friends and relatives and even a Hollywood movie producer. Of course, they all bring their servants who bustle around downstairs to make life grand for their betters upstairs. When someone is found dead - and it appears he was murdered twice - everyone seems to have a motive.
The ensemble cast includes just about every famous British actor of the day and is led by Maggie Smith who steals the show with her funny/snobby countess role, Helen Mirren who is tragically efficient as the housekeeper, Kristen Scott Thomas as the self-absorbed lady of the manor, and Kelly Macdonald who plays a wonderfully meek ladies' maid. Each of the wealthy guests is incredibly spoiled and oblivious to the world downstairs, where the servants have their own hierarchy and drama. Everyone has a secret and they all unfold much to our delight.
Director Robert Altman's style of overlapping dialogue can be frustrating; at first it was hard to understand what was being said because everyone talks at the same time or mumbles and sutitles are a must, but it's still fun to soak up the atmosphere of the filthy rich who find everything just too, too boring. This movie is part comedy, part drama, dripping with period authenticity. It was nominated for seven Oscars and won for Best Screenplay. Lots of fun Extras on the DVD.
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