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Movie ReviewsDownton Abbey – A Charming Drama

Keith NoakesSeptember 22, 201980/100
Starring
Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith
Writer
Julian Fellowes
Director
Michael Engler
Rating
PG (Canada, United States)
Running Time
122 minutes
Release Date
September 20th, 2019
Overall Score
Rating Summary
The Downton Abbey film adaptation will surely appeal more to fans of the series but on its own is a fun and entertaining charming drama that works on its own.

It was inevitable that the massively-popular television series Downton Abbey would see some sort of continuation after its sixth and final season back in 2015. Now, four year later, we are reunited with the Crawleys of Downton Abbey in the aptly named Downton Abbey. With that, the obvious question of whether or not audiences need to watch the television series in order to fully enjoy this film. The answer to that would be yes and no. Fans of the series will clearly be more familiar with the characters and their respective storylines but new audiences (such as myself) will see a wholesome drama that stands on its own. This film will surely have a greater impact on fans of the series as it supposedly gives them some closure with its many characters, however, it was still fun to watch.

The story of Downton Abbey features far too much to cover in this review but in terms of the film, it saw the Crawleys and the other upper-class families as well as the staff of Downton Abbey have their lives upside down with news that they were set to host the King and Queen of England. Not knowing all of the characters, it was difficult to fully connect with certain subplots (though fans surely will). The arrival of the King and Queen would affect each of them in different ways (I don’t remember most of their names) as most were forced to reflect with where they were at this stage in their lives, prompting some tough decisions and providing plenty of drama. While there were arguably too many characters (it’s hard to speak to how well the film handles them), the story as a whole was still compelling to watch and was at its best whenever it focused on the Crawleys and the inner workings of Downton Abbey. Perhaps what has made the original series so successful was that it is pure escapism and this was still the case here as the film will pull audiences into this magical world.

Speaking of the magical world of Downton Abbey, the film excels on a technical level. From the costumes, to the cinematography and production design, you feel like you are there and living in this world with the characters. However, none of this would have worked if not for its poignant script, that was of course dramatic but also surprisingly hilarious at times, and its great performances featuring the pre-establish chemistry of its superb cast. Some of it may go over the heads of non-watchers of the series, however, they were all fun to watch, especially Smith riffing as the absolutely savage Violet Crawley which is never not entertaining.

In the end, Downton Abbey will surely appeal to fans of the series but its film adaptation is a fun piece of charming escapism.

*still courtesy of Focus Features*


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