Downton Abbey: A New Era – a movie review by Alex First

April 28, 2022 by Alex First
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Set in 1928, the matriarch of the Crawley family – The Dowager, Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) – may be in failing health, but she has lost none of her bite.

She stuns her son, Lord Robert Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), and other members of her extended family when she announces that she has inherited a villa in the south of France.

Further to that, she intends to bequeath the property to Lady Sybil and Tom Branson’s (Allen Leech) daughter Sybbie Branson (Fifi Hart).

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The origins of the gift back to an encounter Violet had with the owner, the Marquis de Montmirail, in 1875.

That French aristocrat has recently passed on and the fate of the villa is contained in his will.

His widow Madame De Montmirail (Nathalie Baye) is none too happy that she is not the beneficiary, although their son doesn’t seem put out by the decision and invites Lord Grantham and his entourage for a visit.

Meanwhile, a British film director, Jack Barber (Hugh Dancy), has put an offer to the family to pay for a month’s use of Downton Abbey to make a feature film.

Robert immediately turns it down but is convinced to do otherwise when it is pointed out that the Abbey is in desperate need of repairs and the money offered is sizeable.

So, while half the family has made the pilgrimage to France, the other half and most of the help is making way for the arrival of the film’s cast and crew.

Among those under the stairs there is quite a deal of excitement at meeting the stars, but let’s just say all doesn’t go smoothly.

The female lead in the picture is hardly what anyone was expecting.

Downton Abbey: A New Era is a glorious looking charmer.

There is plenty to appreciate and savour even if you never watched the TV series and/or didn’t see the first film.

The writer remains Julian Fellowes, who created the television show that ran from 2010 to 2015 and wrote the first film that was released in 2019.

This time, direction is the work of Simon Curtis (Goodbye Christopher Robin)>

I loved the focus on the transition between the silent movie era and the advent of talkies.

In fact, the plot is beautifully crafted and played out, giving scope to the key and secondary players.

Maggie Smith delivers some choice lines with aplomb.

Michelle Dockery impresses as the measured and sensible lady of the house (Lady Mary Talbot) who finds a new calling.

Actually, there isn’t a bad turn here, even if some characters are given more to do and say than others.

That, of course, is always going to be the case with a large cast and expanding family (in this case with a surfeit of hired help).

The costuming is sumptuous and the decor and surroundings are to die for.

The picture has a delightful look and feel, which is the right mix of light and shade.

I enjoyed the original Downton Abbey movie and thought this was even better.

Downton Abbey: A New Era (PG) – 125 minutes 

Rated PG, it scores an 8 out of 10.


One Response to “Downton Abbey: A New Era – a movie review by Alex First”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    One of my favourite shows on TV.

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