Cold Comfort Farm

Bomb Rating: 

It's hard to believe that any family, even a British one, could be so dysfunctional.

You know, isn't it just like the aristocracy; take away their money and suddenly begging becomes an art form. This is Flora Poste's (Kate Beckinsale) lot in life. She teaches the peasants that they can be better people if they listen to the wisdom of those who inherited their money.

Flora's mission is to shack up with her lower-class relatives at Cold Comfort Farm and turn them into proper English people. This family, the Starkadders, is trapped at the residence. The cause of this isolation is the Starkadder matriarch, Ada Doom (Sheila Burrell), who only descends from her room to make sure none of the family members has left and to recount the childhood experience that has trapped everybody: when Ada saw "something nasty in the woodshed."

I cared about what Ada saw in the woodshed until she began to incessantly repeat the stupid phrase, at which point I realized that director John Schlesinger was going to torture us with the mystery and then kick us out of the theater without answering the question because that would be the artsy-fartsy thing to do.

It's hard to believe that any family, even a British one, could be so dysfunctional. There's the gloomy cousin, Judith (Eileen Atkins), her husband, a fire-and-brimstone preacher (Ian McKellen), and their sons, suave farmboy Seth (Rufus Sewell) and burly Reuben (Ivan Kaye). There are also many other freaks whose weirdness seems directly proportional to how many speaking lines they have. As this film was a co-production of BBC and Thames Television, the eventual spin-off series and sets of Starkadder action figures seem all but inevitable.

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