Film Reviews

Downton Abbey A New Era review: Dir. Simon Curtis (2022)

Nearly three years on and one worldwide pandemic later, Downton Abbey has returned to the big screen. After reviewing the first (at the time, I’m not sure we knew there’d be a sequel), I settled into my seat to be transported back into that decadent world – and was not disappointed.

Opening on the wedding of Tom (Allen Leech) and Lucy Branson (Tuppence Middleton), everyone seems to be in high spirits… until news arrives, as it always does in the world of Downton Abbey, the magnificent estate in which everything revolves around and inside. It’s announced that a film crew want to shoot part of their moving picture at the house, if permission is granted by Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), 7th Earl of Grantham and head of the household. As a middle-aged, sometimes surly gent, Robert is unsure of this new-age technology (bear in mind, this is set in the 1930s) and puts his foot down – but it only takes a persuasive word from daughter Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) to change his mind…

That, and a mysterious invitation from a stranger to stay at their plush villa in the south of France! Addressed to Violet (Maggie Smith) – Robert’s elderly mother, the Dowager Countess of Grantham – it seems she’s been left the villa in a will by a previous lover, a surprise to everyone it seems. However, with Violet too sick to travel, the rest of the family take it upon themselves to split responsibilities, half staying to mind the film crew and the (luckier) other half visiting the French Riviera.

What ensues is a 120-minute lighthearted comedy-drama following the various characters across various storylines – and boy, are there storylines galore! Counting on my fingers, I think there are at least ten, with only a couple intertwined with the film crew/villa focus. Characters coupling up; sickness; new career dreams; potential adultery… it’s all going on at Downton!

For someone like me who isn’t a diehard Downton-y, the packed plot feels like the film’s one flaw. With so much to cover in a relatively short run-time, the film cuts back and forth across different locations to report back on as much as possible. There are definitely storylines that could’ve been cut to leave more breathing room for the others, but I’ll leave that up to viewers to decide what they’d edit out.

If you’re able to forgive the erratic editing, Downton Abbey: A New Era is a delight for the senses. The opulent set design, gorgeous costumes and sweeping classical soundtrack truly do help you escape to Downton, as if you’re rubbing shoulders with movie stars Guy Dexter (Dominic West) and Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock), who are visiting the house to shoot their silent picture.

With a huge cast – Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Hugh Dancy, Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, Robert James-Collier, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Lesley Nicol, Imelda Staunton, Penelope Wilton, and so many more – long-time Downton Abbey fans will not be disappointed, with all of their favourites making a return. Directed by Simon Curtis, whose credits include My Week With Marilyn, Goodbye Christopher Robin, we’re in safe hands with someone comfortable managing impressive period pieces.

As the title suggests, Downton and its beloved characters are moving into a new era – so this probably won’t be the only sequel we sit down to enjoy. See you in a year or so for Downton Abbey: The Return of the King, or something similar…

Downton Abbey: A New Era is in cinemas now


2 thoughts on “Downton Abbey A New Era review: Dir. Simon Curtis (2022)

  1. Pingback: First full trailer and new poster for Downton Abbey: A New Era – Coming to cinemas April 2022! | critical popcorn

  2. Pingback: Decca Records release John Lunn’s magnificent soundtrack to Downton Abbey: A New Era – Find out more! | critical popcorn

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