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Cold Comfort Farm (1996)

Originally Written
Friday, July 8, 2005

Cold Comfort Farm is the British equivalent to Chevy Chase's Funny Farm, and much more entertaining. A very young Kate Beckinsale plays Flora Post, a rather "uppity, to do" girl whose parents have just both died. When questioned in regards to what she plans to do with her life now and that she needs to get a job to support herself, she states she will send out letters to relatives and ask if she can come live with them. She receives many responses and decides to settle on the accommodations that appear to be the most interesting. She wants to become a writer and would therefore like to "experience" the real world and published a book about it when she turns the age of 53.

The strangest and most interesting of them all comes from cousin Judith Starkadder, who writes of the wrong the Starkadders had done to her father Robert Post and that they would do anything to make that wrong, right. She was welcome to come and stay with them as long as she did not inquire into what the wrong done to her father was, "if you come to this doomed house, what is there to save you," Judith writes. So Flora decides Cold Comfort seems to be the strangest and most interesting of the responses so she heads off to meet her odd relatives the Starkadder's at Cold Comfort.

Cold Comfort Farm contains a great number of strange and unique characters. Aunt Ada Doom is an old woman in her 70's and the ruler over the farm, no one is to do anything without her knowing about it, and no one is to leave Cold Comfort because "there have always been Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm!" She stays in her room and hasn't come out for 20 years, except once a year to have a counting to make sure everyone is still there. She eats five meals a day and continuously repeats that she "saw something nasty in the woodshed" when she was a small girl, although she does not remember what it was, or if it even was in the woodshed.

Cousin Judith is the daughter of Aunt Ada, she is constantly in a dark mood, and spends her time in depression playing with her fortune teller cards. Judith is married to Amos (Ian McKellen), a preacher of the Church of the Quivering Brethren, as Amos says "they are all going to burn in hell, someone has to tell them!" The two boys are, Seth and Ruben. Seth is the ladies man, and in love with the "talkies" (movies). Ruben is the farmer of the family and has a resentment against Flora when she comes, thinking she is there to take over the farm. Then there is Adam, the old senile man who tends to the cows and washes the dishes with a twig, he rambles on and half the time he can't be understood. His daughter, Elfine is a strange girl who wanders around the woods all day dancing around like an elf, she is in love with the son of a rich family, but promised to a thing named Irk!

The main plot of the story focuses on Flora as she takes it upon herself to start changing things around Cold Comfort for the better, she enjoys "putting stuff in order" as she calls it. At first everyone resents her, thinking she has some trick up her sleeve to take over the farm, but as she begins to find out what makes each of them tick, she gives them the motivation they need to turn their life's around and escape the snare of their hermit grandmother.

Overall, Cold Comfort Farm is a truly hilarious film very enjoyable and very well written. The acting is great and when Flora starts messing in their lives you can truly believe these people are hillbilly nutcases. This provides the film with nary a dull moment, and it all flows so well that it doesn't drag a bit. I was actually surprised while I watched it again at how fast everything begins to unfold. I thoroughly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a good comedy about a quirky family.


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