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DOWNTON ABBEY Film is Another Jewel in its Crown

Downton Abbey was pretty much everything a fan of the show could have wanted. The popularity of the show propelled the movie to the top of the box office in its first weekend, but the quality of the movie kept it in the second spot for its second weekend. Almost everyone was back, with just a few minor exceptions, but perhaps most importantly, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) did not leave her sharp wit or tongue on our television sets.

Nobody other than Julian Fellowes could have written the dialogue or plot for our favorite British family – and their extended family. Who wasn’t affected when Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Anna (Joanne Froggatt) declare themselves best friends? Michel Engler directed and continues to capture the lush visuals that we came to expect from the show, especially as the film has a royal visit at the center of the action.

With only two hours to play with, not everyone could get a juicy storyline. Sadly, Spratt (Jeremy Swift) and Miss Denker (Sue Johnston) are absent as we don’t see anything of the Dowager’s household but we do get a glimpse of the extended family as Imelda Stantan joins the cast as estranged family member Maud Bagshaw. Maggie Smith is a delight as the Dowager moves from righteous anger to understanding with the help of Isobel (Penelope Wilton). Wilton continues to be the perfect balance to Smith’s Dowager.

It’s likely not surprising that we also don’t see Mr Mason (Paul Copley) or even Dr Clarkson (David Robb), but I was a bit surprised that Lily James wasn’t on hand as Lady Rose. Still, we do get a number of fairly good parts for many of the characters we love.

The film is completely self-contained, but the door is most definitely open for a sequel… or more. I liked how at one point Barrow (Robert James-Collier) and his new friend Richard Ellis (Max Brown) wonder what life will be like for “blokes like them” in fifty years and later Carson (Jim Carter) muses about what the house will be like in a hundred…. Could we see something of those storylines? Or maybe we can simply take up the story of Tom (Allen Leech) and Lucy (Tuppence Middleton), Daisy (Sophie McShera) and Andy (Michael Fox), and Molesley (Kevin Doyle) and Baxter (Raquel Cassidy). Or maybe pick up the story of the children? There are lots of options for more of this great show.

Some of the real highlights for me included the scene in which Tom has no idea that he’s giving marital advice to a member of the Royal family – Princess Mary (Kate Phillips). Then there was Anna leading the revolt of the Downton staff against the Royal household. Who didn’t love the Dowager being all smiles that maybe Robert (Hugh Bonneville) wasn’t getting Maud’s fortune, but it looked likely that Tom might. It was also fun to see the King (Simon Jones) thank Tom for saving him not once, but twice.

Perhaps the most powerful scene, which is also arguably the saddest, it the one between Lady Mary and the Dowager. If there is a sequel, it will almost undoubtedly begin with a funeral as the Dowager has bad news for Mary. In true British fashion – stiff upper lip and all that! – the Dowager swears Mary to secrecy and vows to soldier on. Dockery and Smith are both moving and deliver the emotion this scene deserves. In a similar vein, Mary is almost ready to throw in the towel as caretaker to Downton until Anna reminds her of the place that the great house holds in the community – it’s not all about Mary after all!

All in all, this was a terrific addition to the tv series. I’ll be very surprised if there isn’t a sequel after its done so well at the box office, and this film proves that the franchise is big enough for the movies! Of course, the big drawback in a two hour story is always going to be that there just isn’t enough time for all our favorites to get big parts – but if your favorite wasn’t featured in this one, maybe they will be in the next one? Have you seen the film? What did you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

DOWNTON ABBEY Film is Another Jewel in its Crown Reviewed by Michelle Grace on October 01, 2019 Rating: 5

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