Cold Comfort Farm

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A delightfully twisted comedy of manners, starring a who’s who of great British actors, Cold Comfort Farm is charming from start to finish. Kate Beckinsale sparkles as Flora Poste, a recently orphaned young woman (although it doesn’t seem to bother her much), who because of her new circumstances must find a home with one of her many relatives.  Her decision is ruled by a desire to collect material for her novel, which she is sure will rival the works of Jane Austen once it is published (or, in fact, written).  It’s a good thing her future doesn’t depend on her skill as a writer, as the samples inflicted on us are florid and overblown in the extreme. Her real talent is arranging things so as to avoid messiness and there is plenty for her to do at Cold Comfort Farm, her chosen new abode and home of the Starkadders.. The array of bizarre characters infesting the dilapidated ruin in the country are a wonder to behold, with standout performances by Sir Ian McKellen (a country preacher obsessed with damnation), Rufus Sewell (a libertine of a farm hand obsessed with the movies) and Stephen Fry (an obnoxious local writer with deplorable manners, obsessed with Flora).

Miss Poste takes everything in hand and proceeds to fix absolutely everything and she doesn’t stop with just people. “Nature’s all very well in her place, but she mustn’t be allowed to make things untidy.” You do need to be able to appreciate a certain type of subtle British humor in order to enjoy this film, but I absolutely loved it. The plot is simple but the script is witty, dry (humor wise, that is) and utterly yummy in an offbeat and very English sort of way. It feels like a P.G. Wodehouse book crossed with Austen’s Emma, a smidgen of Brontë, plus a dollop of The Great Gatsby.  Of course the latter in the list is included mostly because of the roaring 1920’s setting, full of hedonism and glamour.  I fell in love with many of the eccentric oddball characters and found the entire movie to be utterly charming. It was a joy to watch Flora battle the fabled Doom of the Starkadders and I cheered her on every step of the way. Cold Comfort Farm flirts with satire and lampoons all the clichés of rural life.  Silly, funny, romantic and engaging, this absurdly amusing 1995 frolic is a classic example of wonderfully off-kilter British cinema. – BETHANY

For more on this agreeable comedy, visit: The Internet Movie Database

If you’d like to know more about the novel on which this movie is based, see: Cold Comfort Farm on Wikipedia

Flora (Kate Beckinsale) and her extremely worldly friend Mary (Joanna Lumley).

Look out, Cold Comfort Farm, here she comes!  And who names a place ‘Cold Comfort’ anyway?

Well, perhaps I can see why.  The lovely edifice itself.  “There has always been Starkadders on Cold Comfort Farm.”

Seth Starkadder (Rufus Sewell) and Flora.  Does proper etiquette require that I mention the cow?  (Or bull, if you want to be really precise.)

                       “Highly sexed young men living on farms are always called Seth or Reuben.”  Reuben (Ivan Kaye) and Seth Starkadder.

    Ian McKellen as Amos Starkadder, preaching at the Church of the Quivering Brethren.

Oh Sweet Lord, she’s writing again.  Heaven protect us from her melodramatic verbiage!

“Let me warn you: I’m a queer, moody brute, but there’s rich soil in here if you care to dig for it.”   Stephen Fry as Mybug – what woman could resist?

                     The fashion in this movie is superb.  Flora can really dress!

 

Photos courtesy of BBC Films, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Thames International, Thames Television and Gramercy Pictures

 

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