Movie review by Andrea Karen Hammer
The hype surrounding the release of the Downton Abbey movie (2019) created a buildup of anticipation and questions for longtime fans:
Would the popular PBS series hold up on the big screen? Would the reluctance of some cast members, such as Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley), to participate be evident or negatively impact the new movie? Could the film withstand, equal or surpass intense expectations set in place from pre-release publicity?
The simple answers: yes!
Opening Scenes: Filling in Gaps and Applauding Mr. Carson
After unexpectedly gaining speedy access to the Downton Abbey movie as the third requesters on our library’s wait list, Artsphoria’s viewers joyfully watched old friends walk along the castle path once again. While trying to understand some of the accents and fill in continuity gaps since our last encounter in the opening scenes, Mr. Carson’s (Jim Carter’s) determined stride returning to oversee household duties during the queen’s visit placed us back on solid ground.
Lushly Filmed Sequences and Frames of Golden Light
In lushly filmed sequences with signature frames of golden light, the grand castle conveyed an even larger presence as a central character in the new movie. Along with previously recognized attention to details from stunning costumes to faster 1927 cars, viewers were immediately immersed in time-relevant sets.
Previous camera techniques, including sweeping shots of the breathtaking land and seemingly constant motion, create a sense of continually changing scenes and a high level of action. One memorable standout is the filming of dancers in the ballroom interspersed with shots of Tom Branson (Allen Leech) dancing with his new love interest on an outdoor patio. The juxtaposition of the larger group with the intimate shots of the couple reflects similarly elegant movement while contrasting moments of joyful private discovery.
Troubling Exchange Between Dowager and Granddaughter Raises New Questions About Spin-Offs
Another moving but slightly troubling scene involves the exchange between the dowager and her granddaughter, Mary (Michelle Dockery), later in the film. In Maggie Smith‘s inimitable style, she shockingly reveals some upsetting information, which sets the stage for future productions.
This unlikely and somewhat forced scenario seems like a prerequisite to the actress’s current participation. However, her touching exchange with Mary (Michelle Dockery) ultimately focuses on pressing questions about the wisdom of struggling to maintain Downton Abbey in a radically altered world.
The new film, based on the popular PBS series, suggests multiple opportunities for spin-offs and future reunions. In the bonus material after the Downton Abbey movie featuring delightful conversations with the upstairs and downstairs cast members (with significantly changed appearances in their modern-day attire), similar speculation emerged amid the hearty laughter of this extraordinary ensemble.
Your Thoughts About Movie Based on PBS Series
What did you think of the new movie based on the PBS series Downton Abbey? How did they compare, and what were some highlights (or low lights) for you?
Add your comments to this movie review, and invite other Downton Abbey fans to join this debate!