Friday, October 04, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Downton Abbey (2019)

The new film DOWNTON ABBEY (2019) is everything fans of the beloved TV series could wish.

I saw the movie this afternoon, and frankly it was even better than I had expected. It's a wonderful coda to the series yet also works well as a stand-alone film, a lovely cinematic experience which I anticipate going back to and enjoying on a regular basis in the years to come. It's a real "feel good" film which to my delight was one of the movies I've most enjoyed this year.

While knowledge of the series certainly helps and adds layers of depth and enjoyment, I don't think extensive familiarity is required in order to find the film entertaining. I'd suggest potential viewers who don't have a solid grounding in the series read one of the many background articles available on the web before heading to the theater, or watch this video introducing a few of the characters hosted by Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore).

It's 1927, and Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is happily married to Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode); their daughter Caroline has now joined Mary's son George (Oliver Barker) in the Downton nursery.

The estate is turned topsy-turvy when a letter arrives announcing a visit by King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James). The downstairs staff are thrilled at the prospect of hosting royalty -- ardent royalist Molesley (Kevin Doyle), who is no longer in service, even asks to return to help for the occasion -- only to be crushed by the news that the King and Queen's personal staff will be attending to them. The royal guests are even bringing their own chef (Philippe Spall), to the dismay of Downton's cook, Mrs. Patmore.

Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), who now outranks her entire family thanks to her marriage to Bertie (Harry Hadden-Paton), arrives to visit for the great event along with her husband and daughter Marigold (Eva and Karina Samms).

The story rolls gently along, with widowed son-in-law Tom Branson (Allen Leech), an Irish patriot skeptical of royalty, ironically coming to the aid of the royal family on multiple occasions. It looks as though Tom may also finally find love again, in the person of Lucy Smith (Tuppence Middleton), the lovely maid of Lady Maud Bagshaw (Imelda Staunton).

Maud, who is lady-in-waiting to the queen, also has a connection to the Crawley family, and Tom may have an interesting future in more ways than one. Staunton, incidentally, is married in real life to Jim Carter, who plays now-retired butler Mr. Carson; Lady Mary, worried that recently promoted butler Barrow (Robert James-Collier) isn't up to hosting royalty yet, induces Carson to briefly come out of retirement.

The movie is filled with beautiful moments; is there anything more satisfying than watching Lady Violet (Maggie Smith) and her "frenemy" Isobel (Penelope Wilton) trading barbs? Lady Violet's final discussion with Lady Mary is an emotional high point of the film.

And what fun to watch Bates (Brendan Coyle) and his wife Anna (Joanne Froggatt), freed from their past problems, plotting a way for the Downton Abbey staff to take over serving the King and Queen.

Henry doesn't arrive on screen till near the end -- I assume Matthew Goode was kept away by other commitments -- but when he does show up it adds to the movie's "all's right with the world" feeling.

A subplot involving the King and Queen's daughter Princess Mary (Kate Phillips) is of highly questionable historical accuracy, but that's about the only negative regarding this beautifully made film.

The movie is a truly "cinematic" experience, gloriously filmed by Ben Smithard. There are many beautiful scenes, but one of my favorites comes right at the end with the sun shining in on Mrs. Patmore and Daisy (Sophie McShera) working in the kitchen.

DOWNTON ABBEY runs 122 minutes. It was written by DOWNTON ABBEY creator Julian Fellowes. The film was directed by Michael Engler.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG. There is no profanity. There are a couple brief scenes which may be questionable for young children, but I suspect they wouldn't find the movie and its adult concerns of much interest in any event. Otherwise this is a lovely period drama appropriate for all.

A trailer is here.

I loved watching so many characters enjoying their "happily ever afters." A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon at the cinema.


Blogger Jerry Entract said...

I shall return to your review in a couple of weeks, Laura, when I have seen the film myself. I purposely did not read the bulk as I want to arrive at it 'fresh' but I did pick up on how very much you enjoyed the film. I expect to enjoy it just as much!

2:40 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

One thing or another is keeping my intended trips to the theatre. Truly, after reading your review, I cannot wait!

3:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'd love to know what each of you think when you catch up with it! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :)

Best wishes,

10:37 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

I am so looking forward to seeing this movie as an ardent fan of the series. Next Saturday a group of us ladies are planning to dress up (in period correct clothing if possible) to see this movie and then afterwards going to a friends beautiful home for a catered tea! I can hardly wait.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That sounds lovely, Irene! A tea afterwards will make it the perfect afternoon. Enjoy!

Great to hear from you!

Best wishes,

9:52 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

So yes - Downton Abby was everything I could have wished for! Your review was spot on. I do think they spent too much time on Barrow and his leanings, but other than that I enjoyed the movie immensely. There were 11 of us who dressed up in various ways from flapper dresses to a proper British maid! Photos were taken but you could only view them on Facebook. The tea afterward was amazing. My friend has a gorgeous home in the hills of Fullerton and she went all out with the table decor and the woman who catered it is herself British so the food was amazing. All in all a most delightful day.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Irene, I'm really delighted to know you enjoyed the movie as much as I did.

Your afternoon sounds absolutely fun!! Thank you so much for sharing. What a great day!

Best wishes,

2:49 PM  

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