After numerous TV shows and a movie, the Downton Abbey service pretty much runs on rails. If you like movies being exactly what you expect then this second outing runs on time, however, if you like your scenery a bit bumpier then this one might be a bit much to take in.
... the film’s best moments are it makes fun of its own franchise.
Amidst bird song and sweeping aerial shots of their palatial pad, the Crawley family are basically at it again. Starting with a wedding of upstairs posh meets downstairs serving staff, Downton Abbey’s characters are all pretty much a codependent unit now. However there has to be a smattering of intrigue and as per usual, the architect (unwitting or not) is Maggie Smith’s famously terse matriarch. It turns out that she’s been left a French villa in a will (as you do) by a previous paramour. The problem is the benefactor in question’s wife doesn’t want to budge.
So, in effect Downton Abbey: A New Era is Downton Abbey En Vacances. In addition to this, the cash-strapped Crawleys get approached to allow filming at their big house for a silent movie. Sure enough, there’s plenty of the usual huffing and puffing and gathering up of girdles at the mention of real-life head-butting ancient protocol but it gives Julian Fellowes’s ongoing super soap opera a few new morsels to feast upon.
The cast is solid, and in Maggie Smith’s words, by and large, they manage to avoid becoming either dragons or fools. And as per usual her character typically owns every line and scene she gets. Jim Cartwright, as the butler who can’t retire, gets to do a buffoonish Brit abroad thing but the film’s best moments are it makes fun of its own franchise when filmmakers descend upon their saintly hall.
So, Should you see Downton Abbey: A New Era on the big screen or wait for the DVD release or for that matter land in a future Christmas schedule? Well, the production and glamour all look good on the big screen but if there is a reason to go, it is to say goodbye. What! No more Downton Abbey, you say? That’s an outrage!
No… but let’s just say it won’t ever be the same again.0