I started watching Downton Abbey on Netflix when all the fuss dead down. Historical drama, just my cup of tea. Although it is more modern than most historical things I watched. I’m a major fan of the Georgian era. Anyway… back to Downton Abbey. I was really looking forward to this film. Maggie Smith appearing once more as Violet, and also the actress that plays Harriet Jones in Doctor Who…. ❤
The storyline is quite interesting in the sense that it is a bit of metafiction. The Abbey is in near ruin and the family do not have as much money as they once did before the war, so when a director comes, offering to make a movie, they accept. Meanwhile, Lord Grantham has to travel to france to sort out an estate left to his granddaughter, Sybil (Sybie).
As Downton Abbey goes, it was it’s most predictable storyline with the question Lord Grantham wants answered having two potential outcomes. Despite that, for a brief moment (as movies do not have the same amount of time as tv shows) it seems as if he is about to lose everything. Maybe if this was another TV series or a mini, they could have focused on this section a bit more as it felt rushed to me in the condensed format of a film.
It wouldn’t be Downton Abbey if the servants didn’t also have a storyline. However, again, unlike the TV series, these stories are very minor and don’t hold much merit. Daisy plays matchmaker for 10 minutes, Thomas finds someone to love, and everyone swoons over the actors visiting the Abbey.
No story would be a story if the character’s didn’t develop. As usual, I think the one that developed the most is Lady Mary. At the beginning of the TV series, Lady Mary and Lady Ethel were selfish. Ethel grew out of it first, Mary took her time. In this film, she is challenged again.
In terms of her character, she is the shadow of her grandmother, Violet and vice versa. Those of you who are not aware of creative theory, the shadow is a mask characters wear. They represent something the protagonist represses about themselves. Throughout the film, they parallel Mary and Violet by having Mary face the same challenge her grandmother once did to see if she is able to run the Abbey until her son is old enough to take over.
Despite the predictive storyline, the acting was superb. Maggie Smith was only in a few scenes but in every scene she was in, her dialogue was dropped with precision. The other actors who play the Lord and Ladies of the house were just as great as they ever were. The servants scenes were minor but again, each actor did their best to make their scene the best it could possibly be. I do wish the servants were given more screen time and more interesting storylines though.
Aside: there was also a little nod to Doctor Who with this little line: “You do look tired”.
Fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy the film, I think. The actors all play their roles as great as they usually do and I did enjoy the story despite it’s predictability. I think it is because of its predictability that I am only giving the film three stars. I like to be surprised. As a writer, I do see plot seeds a bit easier than someone who doesn’t know the craft, but I still have had films that have been able to keep me guessing what would happen.
The film did make me tearful at the end. Apparently there will be a third film but I fail to see what storyline they can do next.
I have written about some of the characters on my own blog due to some of them having disabilities.
Guest Film Review by Shannon Weston