Downton Abbey: The Movie (2019) 

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

Julian Fellowes had no idea when he wrote the first season of Downton Abbey that it would become an international success that continued for six seasons and spurred a revival on the big screen. Full of familiar faces and a few new ones, the film is a treat and a delight for anyone who simply can’t get enough of the scandalous, witty, and sometimes petty Crawley family.

It’s business as usual at Downton until Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) opens an important letter over breakfast. The king and queen hope to visit on their way into the country. After she senses their butler, Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier) is out of his depth, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) races down the road to elicit the help of their retired butler, Mr. Carson (Jim Carter). It causes a commotion below stairs, which only increases with the arrival of a handsome young man to fix the boiler (he catches the eye of the kitchen-maid-turned-cook Daisy, much to her fiancé’s distress) followed by the pretentious demands of the royal staff.

To make matters worse, small valuables are disappearing around the house. Hoping to surprise her husband with a secret, Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) feels distressed to discover the king has “intentions” for him. And everyone is frankly, a little worried about how Irish Republican Tom Branson (Allen Leach) might react to a bunch of monarchists in the house. And what would Downton be without friends-and-rivals Lady Violet (the scene-stealing Maggie Smith) and Isobel (Penelope Wilton) hot on the trail of a family mystery that needs solving.

I laughed and cried my way through the series, sometimes seething with anger and at other times, feeling disappointment, but always with a certain fondness for these characters. And this film does show how they have grown over the years. Mary and Edith are no longer at each other’s throats. Branson has swallowed his anti-English, anti-monarchist beliefs, to show support for his daughter’s “English family.” Lady Violet has become more tolerant, and even “rather likes” her former rival, Isabel.

There is a certain sentiment in seeing this on the big screen. Hearing the opening chords for the first time in a massive theater, rather than huddled around the television. Seeing a familiar figure stride up the graveled walk and knowing it’s going to be all right, since Carson has arrived. Blown up to ten times its usual screen size, and benefitting from a far bigger budget, this film is glamorous. Its tiaras sparkle and shine. The silver gleams. The ladies sweep about in drop-dead-gorgeous 20s gowns. And though the plot is nothing to write home about, it’s fun, and flirty, and a little maddening, and even a bit heartwarming toward the end, because it feels like coming home.

Sexual Content
A woman admits to having had a child out of wedlock. A sequence takes place in an illegal / underground gay club where men kiss each other and dance. Two men discuss how hard it is to conceal their homosexuality and later, kiss. Several heterosexual kisses. Some cleavage. A woman is shown in her undergarments (modest by modern standards).
 
Language:
A few minor abuses of deity; a use of "bloody."
 
Violence:
A man tries to shoot someone; another man wrestles him to the ground. A woman steps on his hand to make him release the gun.

Other:
Drinking. Servants lie, give each other sleeping drafts, and otherwise attempt to sabotage each other.