REVIEW — “Downton Abbey: A New Era”
The Crawleys are back (and on holiday) in Downton Abbey: A New Era.
Based on the British drama series/international phenomenon, Downton Abbey: A New Era continues creator and writer Julian Fellows’ upstairs/downstairs adventures of the Lords, Ladies, and servants of Downton Abbey.
In Downton Abbey: A New Era audiences are treated to two parallel 1920’s storylines that feature all of the show’s most beloved returning characters. The first, reminds us that the Dowager Countess, Violet (Maggie Smith), is always full of surprises and quips as she inherits a villa in the South of France.
Not able to travel herself, the Lord and Lady Grantham (Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern, respectively) and a large travelling party, journey to see the stately villa. But the trip, meant to shed light on the inheritance, leads the family to more questions than answers. However, by the end of the delightful film, all questions will be answered.
In the second storyline, the modern world has come to Downton Abbey in the form of a silent movie crew descending upon the estate. The younger Crawleys see the benefit of the money the Hollywood production will bring to the family estate while the older generations sneer at the pedestrian nature of the endeavor.
Throughout the production, new characters intermingle with familiar faces and the entire house gets to play a part in the film-within-a-film. Hugh Dancy plays director Jack Barber, who simultaneously spends his time directing and flirting with Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery). Conspicuously missing is Lady Mary’s husband Henry Talbot, played by Matthew Goode. Though he is referenced in the movie, he fails to appear.
Directed by Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn), who balances the dual storylines with a sophistication that allows each character a moment to shine, Downton Abbey: A New Era also stars Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Harry Hadden-Paton, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Sophie McShera, Tuppence Middleton, Lesley Nicol, Imelda Staunton, Penelope Wilton, and new cast members Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye, Dominic West, and Jonathan Zaccaï.
Unlike the last feature-length film, 2019’s Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture, the humor, dialogue, and story arcs in Downton Abbey: A New Era are better thought out and more masterfully executed. The film proves that, through laughter and tears, the family and their staff will persevere through any challenge. And though the people who live in Downton Abbey may change, the family will live on.
Rated PG with a running time of 2 hours and 5 minutes, Downton Abbey: A New Era opens in theatres on May 20, 2022.