The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - HIGHLIGHTS -

A jolly-good week­end shoot­ing party at an English man­sion in 1932 dis­closes se­crets and lies among dis­tin­guished mem­bers of high so­ci­ety and as­so­ci­ated ser­vants and staff. Di­rec­tor ex­traor­di­naire Robert Alt­man brings to­gether an army of Brits (Mag­gie Smith, Michael Gam­bon, Helen Mir­ren, Jeremy Northam, Emily Wat­son, Clive Owen, Kristin Scott Thomas and thrice that again), and a cou­ple of Yanks (Ryan Phillippe, Bob Bal­a­ban) for this Up­stairs,Down­stairs- type tale mas­querad­ing as a dap­per mur­der mys­tery. High­lights in­clude Northam’s su­per-suave take on sil­ver­screen idol Ivor Novello, the stag­ger­ingly icy Smith’s riproar­ing re­torts and Gam­bon’s in­ter­mit­tent ut­ter dis­re­gard for hu­man de­cency. In a piv­otal role, Trainspot­ting’s Kelly Mac­don­ald ac­quits her­self finely as the cheru­bic maid wit­ness to the hu­mil­ity and grand pom­pos­ity that di­vides the classes. Three decades af­ter Nashville and M*A*S*H, Alt­man’s craftily edited plot ex­po­si­tions and trade­mark nat­u­ral­is­tic ap­proach to dia­logue are as mas­ter­ful as ever and a re­minder of how de­served his 2006 hon­orary Os­car re­ally was. ★★★★

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