Verdict: Even on the big screen, Downton Abbey remains as genteel and imperial as ever.
After a successful stint on television, creator Julian Fellowes has brought his acclaimed series Downton Abbey to the silver screen. The film is a continuation of the series that concluded four years ago. While it’s still set in the early 20th century, the story follows up a few years after the events in its last special, which aired on Christmas Day in 2015. The Crawley family is back, as are the domestic servants of the sprawling estate that gave both the series and the latest film its name. For those who haven’t watched Downton Abbey, the movie might seem a little out of place, but here’s a handy guide to get you up to speed with the Granthams.
What’s Downton Abbey About:
A telegram is delivered to Downton Abbey with news about the visit of the King and Queen of England to the estate. Suddenly, there is a flurry of activity and emotions within the household. The domestic servants have the top responsibility of sprucing up the place, while the Grantham family is also on tenterhooks with the oncoming royal arrival. The Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith), meanwhile, is looking forward to another visit. The Queen will be accompanied by her companion Lady Bagshaw (Imelda Staunton) who is a distant cousin of the family and Lady Violet insists Robert (Hugh Bonneville) should be her heir while Bagshaw has plans of her own. We also get a peek into Edith’s (Laura Carmichael) new life, while Mary (Michelle Dockery) has doubts about Downton’s future. The family is also worried about Tom (Allen Leech), who was never a fan of royalty and its customs.
You are bound to be drawn to the film for the same reasons you loved the television series. Downton Abbey can be suave yet scandalous, progressive yet oblivious, and charming yet subdued. It stays true to the period and the location it is set in, giving us a look into aristocratic British culture, and yet has a tinge of modernism. The story makes sure that each character sticks to its roots because ‘change’ was always concerning at Downton and still the central theme of the series. The royal arrival does bring the best out of each character and despite the large cast, every single actor has their moments to shine. The best lines, as always, are reserved for Maggie Smith and her quips with Penelope Wilton’s Lady Isobel Crawley are the highlight of the film. She also goes head-to-head with Imelda Staunton’s Lady Bagshaw, reuniting the formidable pair from Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix. As always, secrets and disclosed, loyalties are questioned, and relationships are strengthened or weakened. With just the right amount of humor and subtle addition of drama, Downton Abbey makes for a lovely watch, especially to the fans of the series.
What Could’ve Been Better:
For someone who has never watched the series, some of the characters and storylines might be a tad confusing. However, there’s plenty of drama throughout to keep you engaged and entertained.
Why You Should Watch:
If you have missed television’s most tactful and polite family, Downton Abbey takes you back to the days when you could enjoy content without crassness. Fans of the series cannot miss the imperial visit and from what we hear, there might be a sequel too!