DOWNTON ABBEY (2019)

Downton Abbey (2019) movie poster
In 1927, excitement fills the halls of Downton Abbey. Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), his American wife Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern) and their family and staff frantically prepare for a visit by King George V (Simon Jones) and Queen Mary (Geraldine James). As the fateful day approaches, anything can happen - and it does.

The smashing television drama of the aristocratic Crawley family and their staff comes to the big screen in grand fashion. After the success of "Upstairs, Downstairs", British and PBS audiences craved more
glimpses of upper class lives. Their wishes were granted when writer Julian Fellowes created "Downton Abbey" (2010 - 2015). For six glorious seasons, the sumptuous soap opera kept international viewers captivated. Now this much-anticipated motion picture captures the same magic. Director Michael Engler, who directed some episodes of the series, works wonders with Mr. Fellowes' splendid new screenplay that crams a season's worth of romantic relationships and scandalous improprieties into a delicious two hours. There's an added sense of mystery and danger surrounding the visiting royalty. Fans will be delighted with this cinematic gem. While it helps to be familiar with the many characters and their involved stories, this enjoyable film serves as a primer that has enough explanations to make it fairly easy to follow with little knowledge of the past episodes. Most of the original cast returns and each member gets their moment in the spotlight. It's difficult to single out one performance - making this one of the best ensemble casts of the year. Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern lend a commanding presence as the household heads. Michelle Dockery and Laura Carmichael happily return as Crawley daughters Mary and Edith. Dominating several scenes is Maggie Smith as the opinionated Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham. Playing one of the more interesting roles is Allen Leech as widowed son-in-law Tom Branson, who's of Irish descent with strong political convictions. Matthew Goode makes a brief appearance as Lady Mary's race car driving husband Henry Talbot. With a cast too large to include everyone, one newcomer worth mentioning is Imelda Staunton as Lady Bagshaw - who arrives with the king and queen and has ties to the family. Imelda's real-life husband is Jim Carter, who portrays senior staff butler Mr. Carson in the series and this theatrical version. Ben Smithard's lavish cinematography is rich in detail. But I felt most comfortable when I heard John Lunn's score and his memorable theme song "Did I Make the Most of Loving You?". This is one location (and family) worth visiting. "Downton Abbey" is a royal treat for moviegoers. (4/5 CAMS)

Rated PG (for thematic elements, some suggestive material, and language)
Running Time: 122 minutes

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