After receiving the screening invite for the Downton Abbey feature film, I didn’t know what to expect. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say upfront — I had no experience with the acclaimed television series before the day I sat down to view this film. That said, the review that follows comes from a totally green perspective. But let me be perfectly clear, I was delighted with the result and can’t wait to dive into the series.
King George V and Queen Mary are paying a visit to the Abbey, and Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) and Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern) are ready to host one of the biggest events their home has seen. Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) leads preparations for the royal visit, but hosting the event is just the beginning of the adventures to come for the family and staff of Downton Abbey.
This film is filled with a variety of situations for those both above and below the stairs that will surely allow most fans to see their favorites in action. Being new to the story made me appreciate every last one of them.
Mary’s request that the lovable Carson (Jim Carter) return to manage the impending visit involves a dilemma for Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier) in deciding to take a back seat in the planning. Tom Branson (Allen Leech) is seemingly being watched and his loyalty to the crown being questioned by someone with the visiting party, while still struggling to find his way to fit in both at the Abbey and with the Granthams. Of course, there are some wickedly funny moments for Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith), who found a way to tickle every fiber of my being.
And those are simply a couple of the storylines in this richly crafted film. The meat of the storylines allows the plethora of great actors to display their talents, leaving me satisfied, yet craving to know more.
I quickly became engrossed with Leech’s character and wanted to know more about both his journey to Downton Abbey and what the future holds for him. I want to know what Lady Mary decides about the future of Downton Abbey and the struggle it takes to get there. And yes, I want to know what the future holds for Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) and her husband Bertie (Harry Hadden-Paton). These and other characters fascinated me from start to finish.
The costumes and sets are magical, but I anticipated that. Just relying on a look and feel is not something that could move me to this degree. The filmmakers delivered a story and utilized the talented actors assembled to go with the talented craftsman — Downton Abbey is a job well done. Combine stunning visuals, top-notch acting and an engaging story, and you’ve got a film that leaves me knighting it as a delightful success at the top of its class, a total crowd pleaser.
Downton Abbey is available On demand and on DVD beginning Dec. 17. Check your cable system for availability.