How Many Lives Are Living Strange

Source: Wikipedia

For my first entry into our “50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen” challenge, I chose the 1995 English film Cold Comfort Farm. Entertainment Weekly touted this entry as a fix for Downton Abbey fans desperate for a dose of lovely Britishness. Obviously, interest = piqued.


I think this was supposed to be a comedy (I did not laugh) slash drama (I did not feel dramatic). I kind of hated this, not because it was terrible or garbage, because it definitely wasn’t, but it just seemed utterly pointless, and I found the experience of watching it TIRESOME.

In one of her first film roles, and looking insanely young, with terrible, real-person teeth on full display, Kate Beckinsale stars as Flora Poste, who’s just become an orphan at age 20. She is fabulous though; dead parents won’t get this girl down! She must decide where she’ll let the wind take her next, and after weighing plenty of unsavory offers from family and friends, she decides to go live with some distant relatives who apparently owe her father, or know some secret about him, or something. I can’t really remember because this film did not leave much of an impression on me.

Said distant relatives, the Starkadders, are horrid, filthy, psycho shut-ins who live on the titular farmstead, and spend their days yelling at each other, wandering through the woods, and just being generally depressed and doomsday about everything. Flora makes it her mission to be the Cher to their Tai and give ’em all a makeover. This sounds like a precious concept, but is executed in dreadfully boring fashion.

There are loads of really great English actors here – Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, Ian McKellan, Rufus Sewell – but I did not like ANY of them. They all brought me negative levels of joy during their screen time. McKellan was basically impossible to understand, as the god-fearing/spewing patriarch/preacher of the Starkadder clan. Fry was GHASTLY annoying and sweaty, and Sewell continues his reign of terror over my fragile feminine psyche. While Fassbender’s intensity stokes the fires of my uterus, Sewell’s typical potency has a domestic violence vibe to it, as if he’s always about to brutally attack a woman.

The plot unfolds as anyone would probably imagine. Flora helps get the pair of unruly brothers cleaned up and doing something with their lives. She softens the father, brings the true hermit grandmother out of hiding (an issue of Vogue works wonders, apparently), helps get the wood nymph cousin-or-something married off to a high-society gent, all the while finding love herself. Yawn.

My precious helped me find the thing, but sadly, Netflix offered no captions (QUIT DOING THAT!), and like an elderly person with hearing aids, I always rely on them when watching heavily British fare, as there are so many different accents/dialects that are oftentimes so thick, and flinging out slang I’ve never even heard of, it’s just so much easier to use them. I know this contributed to my malaise as well, as I often had literally no idea what was being said in a scene. There’s no way loads of this flick didn’t go over my head.

Based on a 1932 novel by Stella Gibbons, what is probably a light-hearted/charming/weird little story about a bunch of batshit farm inhabitants being reformed by a lovely city gal came across as dull, bland, and uneventful. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Downton, this was not. And definitely not one of the greatest flicks I had “never seen.”



4 thoughts on “How Many Lives Are Living Strange

  1. Such a shame. Those fish out of water tales are usually SO FUNNY (wow, it’s difficult to intonate sarcasm in text…I’ll just overuse capitals). I am legitimately upset that at least the abominable and eminent Mr. Fry isn’t wonderful. I believe he signed a contract with God that he must ALWAYS be giggle-worthy.

    A shame. Alas, I am eagerly awaiting the rest of your watching series.

  2. Pingback: Our Movie Challenge | ravingmadscientists

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