A House in the Country, An Ensemble Cast

May 26, 2008 | 15 books mentioned 7 2 min read

There’s something about an ensemble cast. And oh, the pastoral charms of a country house. Though I’d say this cinematic genre is English is certain fundamental ways, it works just as well elsewhere, a demonstrated by the list below (Italy, France, Greece, Los Angeles, Spain, Canada, the O.C.). One of the other interests of this genre is that some of its finest examples (Gosford Park, The Big Chill, Peter’s Friends, and The Anniversary Party), work according to the classical unities (unity of time, unity of place, unity of action). Call them antiquated and fussy if you will, there is a certain satisfaction in a movie that stays put and, in something approximating “real time,” resolves the troubles it introduces.

Happy Memorial Day.

is a staff writer for The Millions living in Virginia. She is a winner of the Virginia Quarterly's Young Reviewers Contest and has a doctorate from Stanford. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Times, In Character, VQR, Arts & Letters Daily, and The Daily Dish.


  1. While it's not exactly an ensemble cast, I have to represent Withnail and I as my favorite "weekend in the countryside" movie.

  2. How could I have forgotten that? I love that movie. the Camberwell carrot and the chicken scene, and the wellingtons made out of plastic bags.

    Why did Richard E. Grant never achieve tremendous fame?

    & Another one I forgot (vaguely in the Withnail ilk): Cold Comfort Farm.

  3. Add me to the chorus of "Withnail and I" fans.

    And in case you missed it, the great Richard E. Grant wrote and directed a fine film called "Wah-Wah" a couple of years ago – a somewhat autobiographical story set in Swaziland in the late 60s as it was achieving independence from Britain. With Gabriel Byrne, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson, and Nicholas Hoult (the "boy" in About A Boy (with the other Grant)) as the young Richard E.

  4. Oh, DEFINITELY Withnail.
    But a lovely list, Emily. May I suggest an Australian addition that is not terribly well known, but is a version of Uncle Vanya, called Country Life and starring Sam Neill and Greta Scacchi, along with John Hargreaves and Kerry Fox. Very fine, if you ever get hold of a copy over there.

  5. Your link to "Coming Home" led to a 1978 Jane Fonda post-Vietnam movie of the same name. I'd be interested in finding the film you mentioned.

  6. Sorry about the dud link: I don't know where you're writing from, but I rented it from Netflix, but Amazon also sells Coming Home. Look under Rosamund Pilcher's Coming Home 1998, released by Acorn Media.

    And as for Wah-Wah–indeed, I did see it. Great cast. Fennella Woolgar too–she was great in Stephen Fry's movie "Bright Young Things"–another shining ensemble piece.

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