Downton Abbey returns with its big-screen debut, following the events of the popular television series. The full cast return for another heartwarming tale of position, politics and scandal. Set in 1927, the movie begins with a nostalgic nod to the very first episode, as a well-dressed man boards a train and the postman set’s off to deliver a letter containing important news, the main theme reaches its crescendo as the camera pan’s over the hill to bring Downton Abbey into full view as the title materialises onscreen, then the familiar sight of the servant bells “front door” ringing and we’re off.
Familiar faces are in full flow as the servant halls bustle with activity, Mrs Patmore is still giving Daisy a hard time, Mr and Mrs Bates look as content as cucumbers while the new Butler, Mr Barrow, heads upstairs to his Lordship Earl Grantham to deliver the news, the King and Queen are coming to stay at Downton!
With such a high profile visit it’s all hands on deck to put on a grand show for the Royals to show the county and nation the full grandeur of Downton. However, feeling that Mr Barrow is not organised and up to the task, Lady Mary makes a personal request to Mr Carson to once again don his Butler Blacks and take things in hand, maintaining a soft spot for the young Lady, Mr Carson readily obliges and heads back to Downton for one last adventure.
Adventure may be a strange concept for those unfamiliar with the comings and goings at Downton but like the TV show taught us, nothing ever goes according to plan. With the Royal household staff bustling in and throwing their weight around in the servant halls, the Downton staff put aside their differences to represent their house and family in fine style much to the reluctance of Mr Carson. What follows is an entertaining exchange of wits and words that dictate the core pacing of the movie.
Meanwhile up in the big house, Lord Grantham and Lady Cora do their best to keep things civilised as the ever-entertaining Dowager Countess, reprised once again by Maggie Smith continues her war of one-liners with Isobel Crawley, played once again by Penelope Wilton. These two have not missed a beat and once again steal the show while delivering more amusing tit for tat exchanges in lite of the impending arrival of an old relative of Dowagers played by Emelda Staunton, which also provides something of a reunion for Harry Potter fans.
Elsewhere, the fiery Irishman Tom Branson finds his loyalties under scrutiny during the King and Queens visit for his republican views while under the eye of who appears to be a Royal security agent. Meanwhile, Mr Barrow, ruffled from being replaced by Carson, ventures out into the city where his own beliefs are put to the test.
Once again the writers do a masterful job of presenting the changing world of the early twentieth century through the eyes of the privileged and the poor alike, which once again reminds us of certain values that should never be lost as well as misguided beliefs that should never return. As a fan of the series, I was worried that the movie may not feel as organic as the TV episodes but my fears were put to rest immediately as the movie began, maintaining the same shooting style and camera work as the series, this felt like a very welcomed feature-length episode with fan service clearly in mind, albeit with a more contained story. The cast all performed as if they had not been away from the set, slipping back into their roles without a hiccup, if this is the final outing it is indeed the send-off Downton Abbey deserves, with fun, romance, scandal and a tear-jerking finale, have the chauffeur bring the car around and get down to your local cinema for a viewing.
TBG Score: 9/10