Published Sep 09, 2019Three years on from the end of Downton Abbey, the family and servants of the titular estate have returned to the screen for a feature-length film.
The entire plot takes place over the span of a few days, but there's no shortage of drama from the opening scene — in which we learn that a visit from the King and Queen of England is imminent.
Familiar favourites make return appearances, some having shown great personal growth since the end of the show's sixth season —Thomas (Robert James-Collier), Edith (Laura Carmichael), Branson (Allen Leech) — while others remain stubbornly unchanged — Mary (Michelle Dockery), Daisy (Sophie McShera), Carson (Jim Carter). And yes, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) and Cousin Isobel (Penelope Wilton) are still unable to have a conversation with one another without each one slipping in a few thinly masked verbal jabs.
There are also new characters to freshen things up, including Lord Grantham's cousin and her cherished maid, who serve as catalysts for sub-plots about both family inheritance and a new romance for Branson. Of course, the King (Simon Jones) and Queen (Geraldine James) also make their appearance, along with an entire set of staff that set the Downton workers into a tizzy (even Carson is willing to play dirty to show the visiting staff who is in charge at Downton).
As ever, the concerns of people downstairs remain dutifully focused on executing the tasks at hand to perfection, while the upstairs folk concern themselves with upholding traditions, as vapid as they may seem as the end of the 1920s draws nearer.
As they did in the TV series, each character continues to grapple with the changing times and the role Downton Abbey might continue to play in the future, but none more so than the Crawley daughters and heirs. Edith pines for her career and questions the purpose of antiquated rituals as she prepares for a growing family, while Mary, still married to Lord Talbot (Matthew Goode), is as independent as ever, but overwhelmed by the daunting task of keeping the estate running as other great houses "throw the towel in."
A Downton Abbey film was by no means necessary, but it's nevertheless a treat for fans. After all, the show was beloved for its melodrama, historical setting and period costuming — and a royal visit is the perfect excuse to celebrate all three.