Rating: PG Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Allan Leech, Elizabeth McGovern and Maggie Smith. Directed by Simon Curtis. Written by Jullian Fellowes. Length: 125mins.
Downton Abbey: A New Era pulls its fans back in three years after its first motion picture and seven years after the wildly successful television series came to an end. As a fan of Downton Abbey, I was happy to hear that they were going to make a film or two, but it’s very clear that this is a money move rather than anything else. They wrapped the series up nicely and there was no real need to make a feature – having said this, of course, the fans flocked back to the cinemas in 2019 to see what their beloved Crawley family and staff had been up to.
This second film rejoins the family, going about their business but with a leaky roof and no sure way of funding the repairs. As it happens, the estate is approached by a company wanting to use Downton as a location for their latest silent movie and they’re willing to pay. While the traditional members of the family aren’t keen to have their home invaded by filmmakers, Lady Mary, who is now in charge, deems it an interesting proposition and invites the company into the walls of Downton, much to the delight of the gang downstairs. While this is going on, it is discovered that Lady Violet has mysteriously been left a villa in the south of France by a gentleman that she spent a short amount of time with, many years ago… Of course this lends itself for several of the family to visit France to investigate that situation, while Lady Mary and the staff keep a close eye on the creation of the silent film and its stars all while getting a little more involved than initially planned.
I’ve seen several criticisms of this movie, mostly from people who just aren’t Downton fans – which makes sense to me. As previously stated it’s a film created for the money that it will clearly generate and will just not appeal to anyone who doesn’t know the characters. The plot is, in all honesty, a bit of a rip off of Singin’ In The Rain and is terribly predictable, but also, terribly enjoyable. You can see everything that’s coming before it lands and that’s sort of the comfort of a film like this, it’s easy to watch and fairly easy to forget. BUT fans will be thrilled to see some of their favourite television characters getting to wrap up their stories – I’m confident that they won’t make another Downton film, they wrap everything up nicely in a way that manages expectations and doesn’t leave any questions.
I enjoyed Downton Abbey: A New Era, it was so easy to watch and pretty nostalgic, but i’m very aware that my opinion is based purely on having watched the characters develop over years. I found the first movie fairly forgettable and I think I preferred this one, but time will tell if it will have done enough to remain in my head. The long and short of it is, if you enjoyed the series and last film you will more than likely enjoy this one, but if not, it’s very basic and probably lands at ‘fine’.