Downton Abbey, rated PG
Downton Abbey, a well-made and acted big-screen version of the popular television series that includes some content concerns, takes place in 1927. The big news is that the King and Queen of England will be visiting Downton Abbey. King George V and Queen Mary will be spending a night at Downton during a royal tour of Yorkshire. While that is the main story, there are numerous subplots in the film.
The film is written by Oscar winner Julian Fellows (Gosford Park), and directed by three-time Emmy nominee Michael Engler (Downton Abbey, 30 Rock, Sex and the City). It features all that was loved in the television series – the beauty of the English countryside, the costumes, the abbey (Highclere Castle in real life), and most of all the characters; the nobility and the servants.
Mr. Thomas Barrow, played by Robert James-Collier, is now the butler, replacing Mr. Carson, played by four-time Emmy nominee Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), who is now retired.
But Lady Mary, played by Golden Globe nominee Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), is concerned that Mr. Barrow will not be able to handle all of the arrangements for the royal visit. As a result, she asks Mr. Carson to come out of retirement to coordinate the royal visit. What nobody at Downton knows is that the royal staff will replace the Downton staff for the royal visit. In fact, the Downton cook Mrs. Patmore, played by Lesley Nicol, will only be allowed to cook for the servants. The staff is devastated when they find out that they will not be able to serve the King and Queen. Is there anything they can do about that?
The sub-plots include Mr. Barrow, a homosexual, frequenting an underground homosexual pub which leads to problems for him; Violet “Granny” Crawley, played by two-time Oscar winner Maggie Smith (California Suite, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), and her conflict with cousin Maud, played by Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton, the real life wife of Jim Carson, (Vera Drake) over an inheritance she believes should go to Robert Crawley, played by Golden Globe nominee Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey), but Maud plans to give to her handmaid Lucy Smith, played by Tuppence Middleton; Tom Branson, played by Allen Leech, is encountered by a mysterious man with unknown motives, and also develops a new love interest; Lady Edith, played by Laura Carmichael, returns to Downton with her husband and may be pregnant.
As we would expect, the acting performances are strong, with Maggie Smith getting the best lines. The cinematography by Emmy winner Ben Smithard (Cranford) is excellent, as is the costume design by two-time Emmy nominee Anna Mary Scott Robbins (Downton Abbey) and the music by two-time Emmy winner John Lunn (Downton Abbey).
Themes in the film include working as a team, reconciliation, respect for royalty, marital and family loyalty, and bravery. Content concerns include homosexual content intended to show how difficult it was for homosexuals in the 1920’s. The scenes in question include men kissing and dancing.
Downton Abbey is a well-acted and directed film that has some concerns regarding homosexual content. It includes numerous subplots, laughter, some romantic moments, as well as a bittersweet scene. The film will work best for those who loved the television series.