Period comedies about a bunch of English people marrying each other aren’t necessarily my favorite genre, but they do have a certain style. “Cold Comfort Farm” is no exception. Kate Beckinsale, in one of her early roles, plays Flora Poste, an over-educated, over-cultured Londoner with tons of looks and intelligence, but little money. With a good family name, but no estate, she is forced to cast about for relatives to live with. She decides to seek adventure by accepting an invitation to live with her relatives the Starkadders at Cold Comfort Farm, where everyone refers to her as Robert Poste’s child. Frequent references are made to some great wrong done to Robert Poste, and that perhaps Flora has some claim on the farm.
Flora has no interest, however, in fighting over a dreary farm. The Starkadders are grist for her literary ambitions, and she soaks up the oddities of these wacky, rural characters in hopes of someday being the next Jane Austin. Along the way, she neatly tidies up everyone’s lives, stoking the dreams of some and playing matchmaker for others.
The characters and jokes are, to be sure, ones we have seen before, but “Cold Comfort Farm” is a capably done little comedy. Besides Kate Beckinsale’s charming self, the film features nice performances by Eileen Atkins, Ian McKellen, and Stephen Fry as a pompous ass. “Cold Comfort Farm” is the lightest of comedies. It doesn’t make for much of a narrative meal, but it’s a nice snack.
3 stars out of 5