At Last – Downton Abbey Is Here!

September 12, 2019

Downton Abbey hasn’t graced our television screens for three years so many avid fans have been waiting for this movie and thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint. This two-hour supersized episode of Downton packs enough plots and subplots to keep you tantalised and entertained right up until the last scenes.

At the same time, we have to admit Downton Abbey isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s always been fairly lightweight and possibly, in today’s world a little irrelevant? To offset this, creator and writer of the television series, Julian Fellowes, keeps the movie a tad more realistic with his character, Daisy, (played by Sophie McShera), who’s the assistant cook downstairs. When she hears there’s going to be a “royal visit” she says she’s not in awe and proclaims she might be a “Republican!”

Upstairs, Tom Branson, the Irish widowed son-in-law of the house (played by Allen Leech), takes up the role of the one outside the tightly-knit British family and this gives us all a little more breathing space. 

Brilliant one-liners all round

Thanks to the witty screenplay from Fellowes, there’s no shortage of the brilliant one-liners we’ve come to expect from Downton Abbey. Who can ever forget the moment in the TV series when Lady Grantham (played by the amazing Maggie Smith, now 84) asked that classic question: “What is a weekend?” 

Fellowes makes sure you can sit back and laugh as the characters deliver more repartee like this. A great comment, particularly for Australians, is made by Carson (played by Jim Carter) as the servants gather and how to tackle the royal visit. Carson says: “Any more comments like that and we’ll all end up in Botany Bay!”

The wit comes fast and furious from Lady Grantham as well as she chats to Isobel Crawley (played by Penelope Wilton). But we won’t quote these here or we’ll spoil all the fun!

Everyone’s back for the movie version

Everyone’s back for the movie version – even Molesley (played by Kevin Doyle) begs to come back to Downton so he can serve his “King” and Carson comes out of retirement to be of assistance. All for the special visit from King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James). 

Lord Grantham (played splendidly by Hugh Bonneville) reprises his role and so does his wife (Elizabeth McGovern). Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) and Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) are all here and the action continues throughout, with many twists and turns.

Romances blooming

It’s clear to see, fans of the TV series will be well entertained by this movie. To add a touch of spice, there are a few new romances blooming – one in the kitchen galley and one upstairs. Plus there’s a bit of action for Thomas the butler (played by Robert James-Collier) as he struggles to express his sexuality.

The attention to detail for all aspects of the movie’s production are top-rate as usual with the sets, costumes, jewellery and hair styles all immaculate. Many have said the production achieves an even higher standard than the television series. And of course, the acting is superb. 

Plot-wise there are a few major moves towards the end which build suspense – just as the television series always did. This pulls the movie out of the trap of being a big nostalgia fluff piece. Instead, we’re now all waiting to find out what happens – is there going to be a sequel? 

Should you see it?

If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, this is a must see. It’s very similar to the television series, delivering everything we’ve come to expect from this franchise. In the end we have to ask ourselves is there anything wrong with that? It’s hugely enjoyable to watch and it’s certainly refreshing to sit back and enjoy a time when Britain was a bona fide world power and social gatherings were a chance to deliver witty repartee all night. 

It sure beats watching Boris Johnson on TV as he lurches from crisis to crisis, arguing for Brexit. Honestly, Carson would be turning in his grave!