- Historical Fiction
Fix: Absurdist Period Film
Platforms: Netflix, Prime Video
When Flora Poste (Kate Beckinsale), a young society woman in 1930s London, becomes suddenly orphaned, she’s forced to take up residence with a group of her unsophisticated, oddball relatives at their farm. Despite protests from the bedridden, iron-willed matriarch of the farm, the aspiring lass tries to achieve some semblance of order and class in the house — and in her own life. Cast also includes Eileen Atkins, Ian McKellen and Joanna Lumley.
Based on the novel by Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm follows Flora Poste, a recently orphaned socialite in 1920s England. Left relatively destitute, Flora is taken in by her eccentric, inbred relatives on a dilapidated farm in the country. The farm and its inhabitants were allegedly cursed following mysterious injustice dealt to Flora’s father by Cold Comfort Farm’s patriarch, Amos Starkadder. As a result, the family is eager to atone for their supposed misdeed and break the curse. Meanwhile, unrepentant meddler Flora seeks to fix the dysfunctional Starkadders through the introduction of modern conveniences and philosophies, with varying degrees of success. She treats the project like an (albeit unethical and jingoistic) anthropological study–research for her imaginary future as a successful author.
Oh man, ALL the famous people are this movie. Too many to list them all! But I’ll pick a few:
Kate Beckinsale as Flora Poste
Kate Beckinsale plays our heroine, Flora Poste. This movie was right around the same time she played Emma Woodhouse. Flora is pretty much the same character, if Jane Austen had written Emma in the style of Northanger Abbey, set 100 years in the future. Beckinsale does a great job with the role, and her clothes are SO FABULOUS. I WANT THEM ALL.
Eileen Atkins as Judith Starkadder
Eileen Atkins, an actress that loves her costume dramas, plays Flora’s mentally unstable cousin Judith. Judith has the worst Jocasta complex since Oedipus boned his mother. Atkins is absolutely spectacular.
Rufus Sewell as Seth Starkadder
Rufus Sewell plays Flora’s over-sexed cousin, Seth or Reuben. It’s a role that he was BORN TO PLAY. He is so wonderfully attractive and horrifically douchey all at once. His final scene in the film is a work of cinematic masterpiece.
Ian McKellen as Amos Starkadder
Ian McKellen is also in this movie! Instead of playing Gandalf, he is a hilariously intense preacher who is concerned that you might not know that you are definitely, definitely going to burn in Hell for eternity.
Joanna Lumley as Mrs. Mary Smiling
PATSY MOTHER-LOVIN’ STONE! Joanna Lumley plays Flora’s posh, snobby, champagne-loving friend and confidante, Mary (aka Patsy).
There are also a million other famous British people, including Stephen Fry, Sheila Burrell, and Miriam Margolyes. Professor Sprout is in the house!
Couch-Sharing Capability: It Depends
Like many of our Stream It recommendations, your couch-sharing mileage may very. I find this movie is much more fun to watch with friends, but only the right kind of friend. Like, that person with whom you went to see Transformers in the theaters? Probably not. But your friend who is always cracking Oscar Wilde jokes? Yeah, they’re cool.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Viewer’s Choice
You can be as drunk or as sober as you like. This movie will be equally ridiculous either way.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: High
I looooovvvee this film, y’all. I hadn’t even heard of it until a couple years ago, but it quickly skyrocketed to the top of my favorites list. It’s not for everyone, but you should definitely give it a try. It could be your new favorite, too!