HomeMovies'Downton Abbey' Review: A Pleasant Visit with Old Friends

‘Downton Abbey’ Review: A Pleasant Visit with Old Friends

Downton Abbey
Photo Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC

Written by Jennifer Marie

The Downton Abbey movie has a lot to offer long-time fans and newcomers alike. It’s exciting to see the magical world of Downton on the big screen, with sparkling, elegant flapper dresses, well-known rooms adorned with books and silver sconces, and the tip-tap rhythm of a bygone dialogue that transports you to a singular place and time.

The only downside, if there is one, is that… nothing really happens. In a time when sequels and “universes” dominate the box office, Julian Fellows could have used the film to build out new storylines for old characters, or introduce new ones, setting in motion an endless opportunity for a major franchise.

Instead, Fellows intentionally serves up a comfortable, gentle week in the life of Downton built around the “drama” of a visit from the King and Queen. The entire notion of the film rests in the idea that the Downton staff are dutifully and rightfully the only “downstairs” staff that can properly serve Downton — even if the King and Queen are staying. It sets off a chain of events between their Downton cadre and those who’ve ostensibly come to replace them for a few days from Buckingham Palace.

There are some lightly veiled mysteries and conundrums, but they unravel themselves in what feels like a safe time for the Crawley family and their staff. Each character has a subplot and moment to shine (a lot to fit into 120 minutes, which is done as deftly as could be), and the main plot doesn’t hinge on any single person’s triumph or tragedy as some episode and season arcs did. If you have a favorite character, surely they were not overlooked (even Kevin Doyle’s Mr. Moseley).

While this Downton fan has loved crying and laughing with the ups, downs and twists and turns of the Crawley family’s life, it was a wonderful way to spend two hours escaping from 2019. It was a comforting relief to be believably whisked back to a time when travel was by train (maybe motor coach), and the biggest problem is what Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) will serve the Royal Family for luncheon.

There was enough context within the Downtown Abbey movie for those who have never seen the series to follow along and enjoy. Back stories were hardly relevant at all, and there was a comfort in that, too: no need for past drama or toils, just the present time with the family on this exciting occasion. A fair amount of dialogue and sub-plots could have benefited from less predictability and camp (“For the glory of Downton!” may have been said in a particularly earnest scene), but for an indulgent time with beloved characters in a new time and phase of their life, it was an enjoyable film.

While it was fairly uneventful, it was not boring. The movie does tease some future decisions like if Mary (Michelle Dockery) and her husband (Matthew Goode) will stay and try to keep the estate going, possible new births in the family, and very mild indications of potential love interests for some characters. But no major disruptions are immediately on the horizon.

We know that history has not been kind to the landed gentry in England, so it still remains seen if Downton will continue to survive, and if so, how; or how long some dear characters will be with us, as with any family’s matriarchs and patriarchs. Watching the movie, I felt as though I were thinking of my own grandparents and parents as time marches on.

If viewers are privileged enough to see Downton and its family progress through the years, the Downtown Abbey movie has let us know that, for now, all is well.

Downton Abbey is playing in theaters nationwide.

Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.


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