Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cold Comfort Farm - Review

Since I reviewed the gothic tale of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall last week, I thought I'd review one of my favorite satires this week.  Cold Comfort Farm is a 1995 British miniseries starring Kate Beckinsale.  It's based on a novel written by Stella Gibbons.

The movie is set in the 1930's.  Kate Beckinsale is Flora Poste, a recently orphaned 20 year old girl, who has been left only 100 pounds a year to live on.  Flora is a Modern Woman, who fancies herself a writer.  She wants to write a novel equal to Jane Austen's Persuasion when she is 53, and plans to observe people until then, as fodder for her book.  Flora is trying to find a relative to take her in, but she has 'only 100 pounds and doesn't play bridge', so none of her London relatives will do.  She sends out letters around the country to all her other relatives, and finds a promising answer from her family at Cold Comfort Farm.  Apparently, according to her Aunt Judith Starkadder, a wrong was done to Flora's father by Judith's husband, and the family owes her a great debt, so they will take her in.

Flora moves in with the Starkadders, who live at Cold Comfort Farm, which is an extremely grim, gothic, run down old place.  The family is run by the matriarch, Ada Doom, who saw 'something nasty in the woodshed' many years ago, and has ruled the family by fear ever since.  She rarely leaves her bedroom, but her word is law.  The rest of the family is equally crazy, with Ian McKellan putting in a great turn as the fire and brimstone preacher of the family, who warns all that there is 'no butter in hell to sooth your burns'.  Rufus Sewell is equally wonderful as the dumb, handsome cousin who works on the farm, but secretly wants to be a film star.  Flora marches in to the family and takes over, much like Jane Austen's Emma.  By the end of the movie she has turned everything and everyone upside down, fixing things just to her liking.

Be warned, this film is very quotable!  If you're addicted to great movie quotes you'll find yourself talking about woodsheds, and how there've 'always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm', while everyone else looks at you like you're crazy.  This film is very tongue in cheek, making fun of those grim, dark English dramas.  You can watch it episode style on youtube. It has such a great cast, including Stephen Fry, who never disappoints. If you're addicted to period drama, and feel like a good laugh, this is the film for you!

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