Downton Abbey: A New Age
Stars: Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Hugh Dancy, Joanne Froggatt, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Sophie McShera and Imelda Staunton
Director: Simon Curtis
Scriptwriter: Julian Fellowes based on his material for “Downton Abbey”
Composer: John Lunn
Cinematography: Andrew Dunn
Focus Features/Universal Pictures
Running Length: l25 Minutes
Somethings don’t die or even fade away, they just – exist. Such are the characters created by Julian Fellows when he wrote “Downton Abbey” and ended up founding a dynasty of characters in the early part of the 20th century. They live on and so do the actors who have these choice roles. Yes, somethings just happen.
The first "Downton Abbey" film was in 2019. In the second “Downton Abbey: A New Age” film, time has progressed to 1928 and there is to be a wedding at the estate. The Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) has a son-in-law, Tom Branson (Allen Leech) who is marrying the Earl’s cousin, Lucy Smith (Tuppence Middleton). Tom's first wife, died in childbirth. Now, Lucy, it seems, is inheriting a large fortune, so in this countryside estate, there is always a helping hand with finances. Next, comes the Countess Violet Crawley (the exquisite Maggie Smith) who tells everyone she has inherited a villa in France from a gentleman she knew in the 1860’s Hmm. Half the family ends up going there to investigate the villa, while the other half stays at Downton Abbey. Hence, there are two stories going on here. France with adventures in another country, and back at the estate, with Mary in charge and movie-making taking place (silent pictures then). This is where the fun starts, as stars mingle with servants who are doing double duty, such as putting on stage make-up. Suddenly, a fly in the ointment. The Silents are out and the Talkies are in. What to do? Use your imagination, audience, the fun is starting.
The cast in this film is so large, and each has a moment of wit, that I’m just going to say, don’t close your eyes or leave for popcorn, you might miss something. The main characters are here; besides Hugh Bonneville as the Earl, we have Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith), Jim Carter (Carson), Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary), Imelda Staunton (Lady Bagshaw), Brenden Coyle (John), Joanne Froggatt (Anna) and Robert James-Collier (Thomas). Yes, the family is intact, and given substance due to the cinematography by Andrew Dunn and music by John Lunn. The settings are exquisite and costumes, well done.
So, having enjoyed the television series and the first film (“Downton Abbey”), I certainly hope the films continue. The atmosphere of another era---and this takes place before 1930, is mellow and a life style about to start fading away. It would be interesting to have the next movie (hopefully another film) in the mid-1930’s after the Depression and see where everyone is and what they are doing. In the meantime, because there is such a large cast, your favorites only have a moment to shine before going to the next situation and characters. Certain actors do stand out, though such as Michelle Dockery’s “Lady Mary” who is the quick thinker in the group (one could say “estate manager,” too). Jim Carter’s “Carson” with the deep voice is always noticed and could control a mob without a microphone. Maggie Smith, well, she steals whatever scene she is in and the word “wit” is her middle name. So, audience, enjoy an elegant past and how actors bring this past to light for your enjoyment. Tally Ho.
Copyright 2022 Marie Asner