DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA – A Review by Cynthia Flores
This new film in the Downton Abbey canon is directed by Simon Curtis, who knows how to tell a good story. Examples are his 2019 film The Art of Racing in the Rain and 2015’s Woman in Gold. He now directs the iconic cast of Downton Abbey for their follow-up to the hit 2019 feature film based on the Crawley family and their Downton staff.
No one was sure a British TV series about a noble family and their house staff could make the leap to the big screen. However, their loyal fans showed up in mass to see their favorite characters on the big screen. It became a global phenomenon. We saw their family survive a royal visit from the King and Queen of Great Britain to their estate in that film.
In Downton Abbey: A New Era, we get to enjoy the much-anticipated cinematic return of the Crawleys. Lord Robert Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), his wife Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), their daughter Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), and her sister Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), with her husband Lord Hexham (Harry Hadden-Paton). As well as their former brother-in-law Tom Branson (Allen Leech) and his new wife Lucy (Tuppence Middleton). We can’t forget to mention Isobel Merton (Penelope Wilton) and her favorite frenemy Dowager Countess of Grantham (Dame Maggie Smith). I could list all the beloved staff, but trust me, they are all here. The cast is a bit older, but they all breathed a spark of life into the characters we have all come to know and love.
In this installment, the story gets a bit meta with a film within a film happening. The Crawleys choose to let a movie be produced on the estate for a sizeable sum of money. The roof needs to be replaced, and that money will do the trick. At the same time, the Dowager gets news that she has inherited a villa in the South of France.
To escape the onslaught of the film crew at their castle, Robert, Cora, Lady Edith, and her husband join Tom, Lucy, and her mother, Maud Bagshaw (Imelda Staunton), to embark on a trip to France. They want to see the villa in the lush countryside and try to uncover the mystery behind such an extravagant gift to the Dowager Countess.
I think that any fan of the television series and the previous film will enjoy all the inside jokes about the art of filmmaking and being an actor. Although, of course, there are times that the situations seem a bit stiff, and it is hard to see beloved characters grow old or tired. But that has always been part of the magic of this series. And, in true Downton Abbey fashion, life moves on, things constantly change, and people die. But the Crawleys will carry on soldiering forward with heads held high.
I give Downton Abbey: A New Era 4-stars. It’s a welcome chapter to the stories we fans can’t get enough of. So enjoy it on the big screen in theaters with your friends now and bring your tissues.
Directed by: Simon Curtis
Written by: Julian Fellowes
Selig Rating: 4 Stars
Running Time: 2h 5min
Wide Release: In theaters only on May 20th
Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Raquel Cassidy, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Michael Fox, Harry Hadden-Paton, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Tuppence Middleton, Lesley Nicol, Douglas Reith, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, Penelope Wilton, Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye, Dominic West, and Jonathan Zaccaï
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
4 Stars – Good movie
3 Stars – OK movie
2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.