Downton Abbey enjoyed six seasons on television from 2011-2016. The series chronicled the lives of the British aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the early 20th century. Producer of the series, Gareth Neame, cited the exit of Maggie Smith, who plays Violet Crawley, as the reason for ending the series at the time. Thankfully for audiences, Maggie Smith did make the return for the Downton Abbey full length film.
The film was held in Theater 2 (the big one!) and it was nearly full. The opening scenes begin with the look and feel of the television version- instrumental music, well dressed Brits, and trains through forests to the manor of Downton Abbey.
The carefully crafted language and wit of Maggie Smith and Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley) had the audience laughing in appreciation from the start. “I never argue, I explain,” (Maggie Smith) and, “The day has dawned, and the weather proves that God is a Monarchist” (Michelle Dockery) stick out.
The plot of the film focuses on the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary who will be spending a night at Downton Abbey before a Grand Ball. The staff at the manor is overjoyed that they will be tending to the royal needs, but when the royal staff arrives the battle is on. While the premise is simple, there are many subplots that play homage to the series regulars- great for fans of the show, but first time viewers may feel lost and unappreciative. The one lined zingers peppering the movie are the only saving grace if you aren’t familiar with the Crawleys. Greg had mixed feelings, calling the film “delightfully British” but also stating it was “more like a two hour conversation with the non stop dialogue.”
By the end, the audience was clapping at the credits after laughing along to the pointed dialogue throughout. If you’re a fan of British humor and 20th century culture, this movie is certainly a crowd pleaser.
Movie times: click here
Run Time: 2 hours and 2 minutes
Directors: Michael Engler
Actors: Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode, Tuppence Middleton
Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements, some suggestive material, and language
Fun Fact: As in this film, in the 2007 film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), from the beginning the characters played by Dame Imelda Staunton (“Dolores Umbridge”) and Dame Maggie Smith (“Professor McGonagall”) were also at odds with each other.