Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: Cold Comfort Farm (1995)

I tried to watch this a couple of years ago, but never finished it. So finally, with nothing to do, I sat down with my mom to watch this and I watched the entire thing! Originally, my mom bought the DVD since it looked like a good movie; I started to watch it with her, but was called away and didn't finish it (she finished it, though). So, finally after watching it after all this time, here is the review!
DVD Box Art

Flora Poste, a young lady of twenty years old and a budding writer who has just lost both of her parents and has only £100 a year, writes to relatives to allow her to stay with them while she works on her writing. She receives a letter from her cousin Judith Starkadder from Cold Comfort Farm, a run down farm that is said to be cursed. Judith is happy to welcome "Robert Poste's child" to her farm in order to do penance for something that her husband, Amos, did to Flora's father years ago. While Flora stays with the Starkadders, she tries to "fix" everyone's life at Cold Comfort Farm, including renovating the house.

There are a good deal of period drama actors and actresses in Cold Comfort Farm (I always like to see actors that I can recognize from different period dramas). Eileen Atkins (Judith Starkadder) can also be seen in Cranford as Deborah Jenkyns. Kate Beckinsale (Flora Poste) can also be seen in Emma (1997) as Emma Woodhouse. Stephen Fry (Mybug) can be heard as the Cheshire Cat in the latest Alice in Wonderland movie. Ian McKellen (Amos Starkadder) can also be seen in The Scarlet Pimpernel as Chauvelin. Rufus Sewell (Seth Starkadder) can also be seen in Middlemarch as Will Landislaw and in Amazing Grace as Thomas Clarkson.

There are a good deal of quirky characters and few "normal" characters. Flora and her city friends were the "normal" characters in the story. Though they are "normal" they still have a couple of quirks to them, but not as quirky as the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm. They do come off as a bit snobby, but they are willing to help Flora out with the Starkadders (most of the time by sending things by post).

The Starkadders and some help
Then there were the quirky characters... mainly all the ones in the countryside. While the Starkadders and other country folk are uncouth, I felt that the country people were portrayed as being a tad "stupid" and then Flora comes in a fixes everything for them. I didn't like how almost everything the country people did was portrayed as being "backwards" and then city-girl Flora with her modern ways fixes everything without any serious repercussions (okay, so Judith was upset for a little while, but she also was okay with everything by the end). So while there were some things that needed to be fixed, I didn't like how the country people were portrayed as being a bit dumb.

A good thing about this movie was the literary references. There are a couple of references to Jane Austen and I did get a chuckle out of the fact that Mybug, a writer who falls in love with Flora (though she does not like him), is writing a thesis about how Branwell Bronte (brother of Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Bronte) wrote all of their books.

Spoiler What I didn't like in the movie (but I heard that it was the case in the original novel), is that there were some unanswered questions. For instance, what did Ada Doom (Judith's mother) see in the woodshed? And what did Amos do to Robert Poste? These questions were not answered, which was a shame. But if the original novel was that way, I guess there was nothing the film makers could do about it. End of Spoiler

Flora Poste
Like many a period drama, Cold Comfort Farm has very nice scenery. There are plenty of country scenes to be gazed at as well as some city scenes. Most of the story takes place at Cold Comfort Farm, which starts out originally as a worn down farm, but after Flora fixes it up it looks nice. There is a small town that Flora goes into for a couple of scenes that looks like a quaint country town: rather nice in my opinion. The scenery in Cold Comfort Farm is definitely one of the high points.

The costuming was rather nice! I don't know very much about 1930s fashions, but I rather liked the way it looked in Cold Comfort Farm. Of course, all the countryside people wore plainer clothes while the city people wore the more expensive outfits.
Flora Poste and Elfine

Overall: 2.75/5
It was okay. It had it's cute moments and it's funny moments, but I found that it was only okay. It wasn't as hilarious as I thought it was going to be. I probably wouldn't watch it a second time, but I wouldn't say that it was horrible.

The movie itself is rated PG, but there are still some subjects brought up that may make some people uncomfortable (in fact, it might even border on PG-13). There is some suggestive language and some mild language. There's nothing graphic in this movie (it is rated PG after all); just a couple of scenes here and there that may be uncomfortable.

Cold Comfort Farm is available on DVD. It is rated PG and is 95 minutes long.


  1. How funny!mi did the same thing with this movie...started it then never finished it. :P I suppose it didn't interest me as much as I thought it would! From what I did see, however, your review seems very apt.(:


    1. I would say that it was okay for a single viewing (keeping in mind the objectionable scenes, though). I didn't like it enough to watch it again.

  2. Oh yes, the "I saw something nasty in the woodshed!" movie. "Yes, but did it see you madam?!" heehee :)
    My father particularly enjoys the silly country ways and sayings of the Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm. I think they are mostly supposed to be viewed as Flora with her city ways finds them. But there is no doubt a good deal of the lifestyle and staunch customs that was true to life in the day and age it was written. I think the story was bringing a critique on customs and superstitions ruling over common sense.

    There are definite questionable scenes (but strangely not as many as the older BBC TV miniseries where I literally had to fast forward through the opening credits and definitely couldn't keep watching after five minutes). This movie is the biggest reason I didn't like Rufus Sewell for the longest time (until seeing Amazing Grace), not a great character at all.

    It did amuse me to think how much Flora Poste is like Emma Woodhouse who Kate Beckinsale would later play. Ha! the Bramwell Bronte thing makes me chuckle every time too! :)

    Nice review Lizzy! I've debated about reviewing this myself but though it has isn't "highly entertaining" moments it's definitely not something I'd recommend wholeheartedly especially for younger viewers.

    1. Oooh! Okay, so that's why the country folk were presented that way. That makes more sense. Thank you!

      Really? The older version had more questionable scenes? That's very unusual since newer anything tends to be more questionable than older stuff. I'll keep in mind to avoid the older version. I hadn't been fond of Rufus Sewell since Middlemarch; he was okay in Amazing Grace, but of the three movies I've seen him, I disliked two of his characters.

      I'm not sure why this version was rated PG. Some of the scenes I thought could have earned it a PG-13 rating.

  3. Hmm... Rufus Sewell playing a dislikable character? Out of curiosity, I may see part of it just for that. My family LOVED his performance in Amazing Grace, but I've never seen him in anything else.

    1. I've also seen him in Middlemarch; he played a bit of a jerk, so I took a pretty immediate dislike to his character. But he was okay in Amazing Grace.


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