TL;DR – This is sort of the cinematic equivalent of sitting down under a doona in your PJs eating ice cream while vegging out on some TV. Perfectly pleasant and even enjoyable in places, but with not really any substance with it.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Well, I am going to get something out of the way right from the start, I have not watched a single episode of Downton Abbey before today. I, of course, know what it is and also thanks to the internet and the enormous fan following it has, I know most of the main plot points but it never interested me to hunt down the DVDs. I say this so if you are a fan of the show you can put my critiques in context, however, I am mostly writing this for those like me who have never seen it before and may get brought along for what is billed as the cinematic event of the year.
So to set the scene, it has been two years since the series finished off and life at Downton is moving on at its usual pace, but no one could be prepared for the letter that is making its way through the Royal Mail system all the way from London. For you see King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James) will be spending the night at Downton as part of their Yorkshire tour. Suddenly everything is thrown into chaos as Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) and Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern) rush to get the house ready, but there are more problems on the horizon and I am not just talking about the boiler kicking it in.
For those who have not seen the series before, I can tell you that you should be able to pick up all the different relationships and quarrels without too much trouble. I think the only one I could not quite place was Tom Branson’s (Allen Leech) connection but thankfully about halfway through he basically gives his whole back story to another character so it all fit in. I do also get a sense after leaving it as to why it was such a big deal as it was back in its day. There is a selection of wonderful characters like Beryl Patmore (Lesley Nicol) and Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) that really steal every scene they are in. Of course Maggie Smith is phenomenal as the Dowager Countess of Grantham, but that is to be expected because I have yet to see Dame Smith be anything but phenomenal in a role, but she is still the queen of sass.
However, while the film was filled with these lovely moments of joy and sassy one-liners, I was hoping for something more, something other than an ‘oh that was fun see you in a few years for the next one’ and there really wasn’t anything like that there. There didn’t feel like there was any real thematic weight to the story bar one small revelation right at the end. While the story was not contrived, it was very predictable, almost like there was a checklist they were ticking off. There were a couple of interesting little subplots bubbling under the surface but by the end they felt like little more than window dressing at best, with the film spending more time of what feels like real fan-service moments, and this is coming from someone without the context and even I could pick that up.
see this in a couple of places, for example the first time we see Downton Abbey
in all its glory the music soars and you get this wonderful moment of cinema
like this is a real touchstone. However, they use this same soaring music for
just about every moment and it is diluted in its effect each and every time.
Also it felt like they always wanted to say something about class, but they
could not quite work out what it is that they wanted to say. Some areas are
more frustrating than others, like a sub-plot where someone realises that they
love someone else because they went into a jealous rage for them, so it means
they care, and well … yikes.
That being said there are some moments that really stand out, like an outburst that had the whole cinema rightly cringing as one at the embarrassment of one of the characters. The political manoeuvring of the Dowager Countess coming up against a formidable foe in Lady Maud Bagshaw (Imelda Staunton). The sneaking around the Royal Household, the parade, and all that jazz. So while I do feel I have been a bit negative with this film, it is not because it is a bad film, it isn’t, indeed it is a perfectly fine film. It is just that it could have been something more than a let’s get together and have a reunion film and actually have some convictions.
the end, do we recommend Downton Abbey?
Yes, we would. All issues aside, it is still a fun little entertaining film,
and I am sure if you are a fan it will be something you will thoroughly enjoy.
It is just, you could feel it could have been more than that and it is a shame
that it wasn’t.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
Have you watched Downton Abbey?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Downton Abbey
Directed by – Michael Engler
Screenplay by – Julian Fellowes
Based on – Characters created by Julian Fellowes
Music by – John Lunn
Cinematography by – Ben Smithard
Edited by – Mark Day
Production/Distribution Companies – Perfect World Pictures, Carnival Films, Focus Features & Universal.
Starring – Matthew Goode, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Tuppence Middleton, Elizabeth McGovern, Allen Leech, Joanne Froggatt, Laura Carmichael, Kate Phillips, Imelda Staunton, Raquel Cassidy, Sophie McShera, Robert James-Collier, Phyllis Logan, Hugh Bonneville, Geraldine James, Brendan Coyle, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, Stephen Campbell Moore, Simon Jones, Lesley Nicol, Max Brown, Harry Hadden-Paton, David Haig, Kevin Doyle, Michael Fox, Fifi Hart, Douglas Reith, Perry Fitzpatrick, Oliver Barker, James Cartwright, Alice McCarthy, Philippe Spall, Andrew Havill, Richenda Carey, Eva Samms, Philip Gascoyne, Marina Baibara, Karina Samms, Zac Barker & Mark Addy
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG; Germany: 0; New Zealand: PG; United Kingdom: PG; United States: PG