COLD COMFORT FARM
(directed by John Schlesinger, 1995)
*** (out of 5)
> This TV sendup of Merchant/Ivory costume dramas started slowly, but grew more joyful as it percolated along.
. Kate Beckinsale is a charming, intelligent, cluelessly privileged heroine who becomes orphaned, scheming which of her many relatives to latch onto. Her choice seems very strange indeed, as she goes to live with the black sheep of the family, a crazy old bat who keeps muttering that she saw something nasty in the toolshed, and the household she holds thrall with the intensity of her familial dedication. She finds the farm so gloomy, it makes Charles Dickens’ Bleak House seem a cheerful, happy vacation resort. By the final shot, I was quite delighted watching our charming orphan manipulate all the people around her in her attempt to organize the motley crew into a more functional group of people.
. The ending was too tidy by far, and felt like the least sufficiently prepared plot point of the script, but it was consistent: our meddling heroine has improved everyone’s life, transforming them until they find themselves on the paths to their heart’s desires. Why shouldn’t it be the same for her? The wry humor was a hoot. Filled with fine ensemble performances (including Rufus Sewell, Joanna Lumley and Stephen Fry- and especially Ian McKellen as a fire and brimstone preacher).
. Though it’s probably more fun for people familiar with the conventions that are being subtly lampooned, COLD COMFORT FARM is a pleasurable way to pass the time.
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