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Home > Categories > Movies > Drama > Downton Abbey review

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Score: 9.3/10  [1 review]
4 out of 5
ProdID: 8514 - Downton Abbey
Directed by Michael Engler

Downton Abbey
Price:
$20
Sample/s Supplied by:
Click to search for all products supplied by Universal Pictures NZ

Disclosure StatementFULL DISCLOSURE: A number of units of this product have, at some time, been provided to KIWIreviews by Universal Pictures NZ or their agents for the sole purposes of unbiased, independent reviews. No fee was requested, offered nor accepted by KIWIreviews or the reviewers themselves - these are genuine, unpaid consumer reviews.
Available:
December 2019

Downton Abbey product reviews

Downton Abbey (The Motion Picture) is adapted from the hit TV series of the same name. It features the continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside a hundred years ago. The Crawleys and their intrepid staff prepare for the most important moment of their lives. A royal visit from the King and Queen of England unleashes scandal, romance and intrigue that leave the future of Downton hanging in the balance.

This movie was written by series creator Julian Fellowes and stars the original cast.

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Tags:
downton abbey   drama   elizabeth mcgovern   england   julian fellowes   maggie smith   matthew goode   michael engler   motion picture   royal family   tv series
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Review by: savta (Jo)
Dated: 18th of December, 2019

Link to this review Report this review

 

This Review: 9.3/10
Pay to see it again:
Score 10 out of 10
Attention Span:
Score 9 out of 10
Believeability:
Score 9 out of 10
Personal Choice:
Score 9 out of 10

Watching a movie that had its beginnings in a TV series might have been an interesting experience for many people, but I was the exception. I had never seen a single episode of any of the original Downton Abbey series, and knew nothing whatsoever about the back story or any of the characters. So I can state with confidence that as a standalone it worked successfully. My friends who watched with me, on the other hand, were familiar with the characters and setting, and could not say at the film's conclusion whether or not they would have enjoyed it so much without this foreknowledge. It is interesting that although the official title is "Downton Abbey" I have also seen it referred to as "Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture".

The first impression I had of the movie was that it was extremely funny, with the humour continuing throughout. I had expected a period drama similar to others of this genre, with plenty of extravagant costumes and first-world problems, but it proved to be totally different. The costumes were there of course, representing the fashion of the 1920s with amazing accuracy, but the interaction between characters was far more important. The distinction between the classes was presented through high satire, with an additional dimension provided by the arrival of the royals' own entourage of personal assistants - almost a third class between the upper and the lower classes, although the term "middle class" would be totally inappropriate in this context!

Maggie Smith delivered a wonderful performance as the matriarch Violet Crawley; although the oldest member of the Crawley family, she displayed a mental agility equal to (and often better than) that of the rest of them. It was a pity she did not have more onscreen time; her pithy comments and witty responses featured regularly at appropriate moments, so much so that I found myself constantly waiting for the next one to be voiced.

The supporting actors were equally strong, notably Philippe Spall who played snooty Royal Chef Monsieur Courbet to perfection - his arrogance was legendary! It is difficult to single out others as there were no key roles as such: the various sub plots and interchanges between the different groups were so numerous that a large cast was required to fill all the roles. My friends assured me that many of the actors (notably Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley, Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley, and Laura Carmichael as Edith Pelham) had already been part of the TV series, so were reprising roles that they had already played, but because I was watching the movie cold I did not have that knowledge - so I was all the more impressed.

I loved the passive-aggressive way in which the "downstairs" staff managed to prove their leadership abilities - a large part of the humour was generated by the clever ways they thought up to affirm their own positions in the household. The hierarchical divisions of the old British class system are beautifully presented so that the viewer accepts them for what they are; it is only when the characters themselves begin to question them that the notion of a society on the brink of change begins to be developed. The younger members of the Crawley family, like Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), are less rigid than the older, while the younger domestic staff members are more likely to speak their minds - although Beryl Patmore (Lesley Nicol) and Elsie Hughes (Phyllis Logan), despite being older, are just as able to stick up for their staff!

The cinematography is breathtaking, starting with an opening sequence which tracks a letter across the English countryside to its destination at Downton Abbey. (For a brief moment I thought it was bound for Hogwarts, and wondered if I was watching the wrong movie, but was soon reassured.) Later in the movie, the Royal Parade demonstrates the pomp and spectacle generated by a royal visit, and the excitement felt by the ordinary people. The lavish sets are true to the period, representing a world which has now largely vanished. Even the idea of royalty travelling by land rather than private jet sets the scene firmly in the early 20th century. There is a strong element of escapism in films like this in the way they evoke the atmosphere of a time long gone. The nostalgia often overshadows the negative aspects of those times however!

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