I was an enthusiastic Downton Abbey fan back in the day, though I must admit that my enthusiasm waned in the latter years of the show. Not that it stopped me from watching it religiously through its finale in 2015. However, I will admit to having some considerable skepticism when a movie was released last year. I wasn’t, quite frankly, inclined to watch, but I heard so many positive reviews that I decided to cave. And I’m glad I did!
I’d been concerned that a nearly 5-year gap between me watching the show and watching the movie would lead to some confusion about who was doing what, but the movie picks up a couple of years after the show left off, and it wasn’t too hard to piece together what everyone was up to.
In my snarkier moments, I’ve joked that the Abbey is like the British version of the Hotel California for characters’ penchants for sticking around indefinitely, but that actually made it easier to follow the action and catch up with everyone.
Basically, everyone’s still pretty much where they were at the finale–Mary’s with Henry, and they’re living at the Abbey with Mary’s parents Robert and Cora and Mary’s brother-in-law Tom, and Granny Violent is still a delightfully sassy nearby presence. Edith is with Bertie. Downstairs, things are pretty much the same except Carson is retired and Thomas is the new butler. (If you didn’t understand a word of that, this movie is probably not for you.)
The plot of the movie revolves around a royal visit to Downton, which gets everybody both really excited and really nervous–and then, at least downstairs, gets everyone really irritated when the royal servants show up and start trying to run the show. Complications ensue.
Downton Abbey, to me, was always at its best when it was balancing the glamour of a past age with the minutiae of life in an aristocratic manor and infusing it with hilariously petty rivalries, turf wars, and scheming. And the movie does all that in spades!
The ending leaves the door open for a sequel but not in a cliffhanger sort of way that makes it seem incomplete. Truthfully, if there is a sequel and it follows the same formula as this movie–which is breezy and fun–I’d be all for watching a follow-up. Movies actually seem like a perfect way to capture what fans loved about Downton Abbey while avoiding the issues with longer narrative arcs that seemed to plague the show in its final season (namely the repetitive storylines and occasionally meandering subplots).
Highly recommend if you’re a Downton Abbey fan.
Are you a Downton Abbey fan? Have you seen the movie? Do you look forward to sequels? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information about this item.