Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Imelda Staunton
Directed by Michael Engler
Written by Julian Fellowes
The highly anticipated film based on the hugely popular television show Downton Abbey has finally arrived, hitting UK cinemas on 13th September 2019. A lot of people have commented on the initial backlash of harsh reviews and disappointed critics but I implore you to go and see for yourself, whether you’re a Downton Abbey fan or are just happy to be transported into a pure, lighthearted work of period drama I am certain that you will disagree with the nay-sayers.
As a fan of the TV series I was a definitely excited to be reintroduced to characters that I had followed for so many years but slightly hesitant as to how the TV show would translate onto the big screen. A long running series allows for real character development, in depth and well paced storylines and the opportunity to introduce and say goodbye to characters as they pleased.
Bringing back these characters 3 and a half years after the final episode aired and for just 122 minutes is a risk but frankly, one that would pay off however well it was received due to the vast fan base of the show – of course the loyal fans will flock to see it!
The plot isn’t a deeply dramatic one, in fact it’s quite easy to determine where the various storylines are going. This, however, didn’t bother me, I didn’t go to Downton to be on the edge of my seat, I went to watch a beautifully put together, heart-warming period drama and that’s exactly what I got.The plot did keep moving, it didn’t linger or drag and I think that is enough for the general audience.
The cast continued their characters just as you would expect, no one forced any dramatic changes, there were no desperate attempts to stand out. Introducing several new characters could also have been a risk however they all fit seamlessly into the world of Downton. Understandably it would take something quite special to dethrone the old favourites and for me (as well as many others i’m sure) Maggie Smith, stole the show as Violet Crawley with her sarcastic and hilarious one liners but was still given the opportunity to show why she is one of Britain’s all time greats with her precise choices and unique ability to draw every audience member into feeling like family. I particularly enjoyed a few fleeting moments of vulnerability from her character of which we don’t see many.
Do you need to have watched the series to enjoy the movie? Absolutely not, of course it’s nice to know the back stories and to understand some of the little quirks but any of the key information is masterfully included in the brilliantly written dialogue, helped of course by the fact that the writer is Julian Fellowes who also wrote the TV series.
This film wasn’t created for the critics, it was made for it’s audience, the majority of whom know and love the characters from the TV series. It wasn’t made to be an artistic masterpiece, simply an effortlessly elegant, romantic story. It is what it says on the tin, not everyones cup of tea but you know just from looking at the poster whether you’ll enjoy it or not. Take it for what it is, enjoy the romance, humour, loyalty and family.