The PBS television series “Downton Abbey” took viewers by storm.
For five years the residents, both upstairs and downstairs, of this British estate enthralled viewers with their antics, love stories, deceit, and family adventures and misadventures. Now “Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture” is a grander look into the folks at the historic house.
The film begins with the announcement that King George V and Queen Mary will be coming to Downton to spend a night. The year is 1927 and the monarchy is stable, however, the Prince of Wales (the future king that made history with his abdication in 1936) is causing his parents some distress. The royals would like the prince to have a more rooted role, however, that is for a future story. In the meantime, the arrival of the king and queen is cause for excitement as well as consternation.
While the Crawley family is happy to host the royals, their downstairs staff is ecstatic. Unfortunately, Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt), Daisy Mason (Sophie McShera), Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier), Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan), Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle), Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol), Mr. Molesley (Kevin Doyle), and the rest of the staff learn that the royals always travel with their own staff so the Downton staff will be relegated to taking care of themselves, not the royals. That disturbs them, as they are eager to look after their royal family.
Upstairs, Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), Violet (Maggie Smith), Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), Tom Branson (Allen Leech), Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), Isobel Merton (Penelope Wilton) and Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), are preparing for the arrival of the royals. Lady Mary has basically taken over running the estate and is having second thoughts about its future. Violet is livid that her cousin Maud (Imelda Staunton), a lady in waiting to the queen, is coming because she is intent on removing Robert as heir to Downton. Lady Edith is hiding a personal secret, and Tom Branson is also hiding a discovery.
The movie heralds the arrival of Lucy Smith (Tuppence Middleton), as Maud’s assistant. Together they have a secret that will alter the future of Downton forever.
Because this is a feature film and not a television episode, the scenes and sets are grander than ever. The bonus features include the cast discussing this newest adventure, a look at writer Julian Fellowes, a look at Highclere Castle, the real estate that doubles as Downton Abbey, and deleted scenes. The most fun is a series recap where viewers get a brief but enjoyable look at what happened during the episodes leading up to this film.
While the movie can stand on its own, it will be more enjoyable for viewers who know the backstories of the characters. The series recap does a lot to bring their stories up to date, however, having a good grasp of the history of the characters will make it even more entertaining.
With more British history ahead of 1927, there could be more installments with the Crawley family. The film leaves several storylines available for future content.