The first word that sprung to mind after seeing Gosford Park
was the somewhat over-used "overrated". And the word stuck. Robert Altman
can do so much better than this (and thank God for that).
Bitca gives an excellent overview of the theme and plot of the movie - actually, reading about it seems infinitely clearer than seeing it. One critic summed it up nicely for me:
I guess you could make a drinking game out of it. You could take a swig every time somebody comes on screen and you have no idea who they are or what their purpose in the film is. You could also take two swigs every time a great British actor is woefully misused. (Widgett Walls, needcoffee.com)
The upstairs-downstairs motive is interesting, but thoroughly confusing as most of the servants carry two names - their own and their employers'. Only the last five minutes did I feel remotely confident that I knew who most of the people were by name.
Some of the actors manage to give worthwhile performances, such as Maggie Smith, but in my opinion, it is rather embarassing to have to see Stephen Fry as the ridiculous detective - a brilliant actor horribly wasted.
(As for the murder mystery, no, it is not central, and again, that is a good thing. I am not particularly clever at guessing in whodunits, rather the opposite, but it didn't take me very long to figure out neither who nor why - and this cannot be a good sign.)