Precious few British families have been loved and followed as much as the Crawleys of Downton Abbey. Once the uber popular television series ended in 2015 rumours ran rampant about a feature film being made. They had to be patient for a few years as it was only in 2019 that their wish came true.
Most of the time when a popular television series attempts a feature film it is a disappointment to fans. It has to do with often that they succumb to the pressures of the big screen and budget so they attempt to do something different. That is not the winning formula. If fans like what you are doing on the small screen why change it up. Those behind Downton Abbey, namely Julian Fellowes (The Young Victoria, The Tourist), were smart enough to give fans more of what they loved about the series. Things are not changed up here, so no real surprises.
As if Downton Abbey was not already a bustling with activity place, when Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville – Notting Hill, Paddington 2), the Earl of Grantham, gets a letter informing him that the Queen (Gerladine James – Sherlock Holmes, Calendar Girls) and King George V (Simon Jones – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – 2005, 12 Monkeys) are coming for an overnight stay, the house becomes a whirlwind of cleaning, cooking and planning.
Believing that Barrow (Robert James-Collier – from television’s Coronation Street) is not up to the task, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery – Non-Stop, Hanna) asks Mr. Carson (Jim Carter – Shakespeare in Love, Top Secret!) to temporarily resume his duties. Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan – Secrets & Lies, 1984) makes sure the household staff cleans and polishes. Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol -Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, Ghostbusters) and Daisy (Sophie McShera – Cinderella – 2015, The Personal History of David Copperfield) are getting the kitchen ready, fretting over the menus.
The Crawleys are also preparing with Lady Mary taking care of the organization, her mother Cora (Elizabeth McGovern – Ordinary People, The Commuter) making sure everyone remains in good spirits, matriarch Violet (Maggie Smith – A Room With a View, Gosford Park) scheming to find out who her cousin (and the Queen’s Lady in Waiting) Maud Bagshaw (Imelda Staunton – Vera Drake, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) will name as her heir, Tom (Allen Leech – Bohemian Rhapsody, The Imitation Game), being pro an independent Ireland, keeping himself scarce, and Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – 2011, Madame Bovary – 2014) making sure she has enough dresses.
As is typical at Downtown Abbey there will be scheming, wit, romance, danger, and plenty of eating amongst those living upstairs and downstairs on the huge property.
The film starts up a year after we left the Crawleys, but really just picks up from where we left them in regards to storylines and character arcs. Per usual the star of it all is Violet or Maggie Smith. Those acerbic lines she spits out on the regular really tickle me. You have to keep your wits about you and your ears open when she is on screen.
This is such a British production. Meaning that the cinematography by Ben Smithard (Blinded by the Light, Viceroy’s House) is crisp and clear, the sets are a marvel and the costumes are beautiful. There is something about British film…when done well it is something to be appreciated.
-Digital copy of Downton Abbey (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
-The Royal Visit
-True to the Twenties
-Welcome to Downton Abbey
-The Brilliance of Julian Fellowes
-Downton Abbey Series Recap
-Feature Commentary with Director Michael Engler
-The Royal Visit