The Relentless Pursuit
This movie begins quickly. You are thrown in the middle of the scene without much setup. The three characters are quickly jumping into a car and trying to avoid the rain. When the car takes off, you are either on board with this movie or you are not. I was on board.
Robert Altman does an amazing job of throwing together a large cast. Comparisons to Merchant & Ivory films (particularly the sublime Remains of the Day) cannot be ignored. I also thought of the recent Bogdanovich film - the Cat's Meow.
The car takes us to a gathering at an enormous estate. Immediately, we are split into two groups - those upstairs and the servants below. As Altman unfolds the story, we begin to tie the characters together. There are at least 10-12 major characters, so this takes a while. The filming is meticulous. Some of the shot setups are just great. The movie's pace seems to come from both groups of people. While we are with the wealthy folks, the movie is slower, while when we are with the servants, the movie follows them as they carry out their tasks and the pace is brisk. It's this pacing that keeps the movie flowing. As we weave our way deeper into these characters, a murder takes place. The movie picks up and many of the reamining secrets start flowing. The mystery is the last third of the movie and plays out well.
Maggie Smith and Emily Watson are standout performances.
**A somewhat clever idea - some of the accents can be pretty thick at times, you may want to turn on the close captioning so you don't miss the dialog.
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