Coming to theatres from director Simon Curtis, written by Julian Fellowes and Focus Features is the return of DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era.
The family is together again in 1929 and this time to celebrate the wedding of Tom Branson (Allen Leech) and Lucy (Tuppence Middleton). Robert (Hugh Bonneville), Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), Mary (Michelle Dockery), Rosamund (Samantha Bond), Edith (Laura Carmichael), husband Bertie (Harry Hadden-Paton), Isobel (Penelope Wilson), husband Dickie (Douglas Reith), Dr. Clarkson (David Robb), Maud (Imelda Staunton) and the Dowager herself Violet (Maggie Smith) are all celebrating.
Part of the celebration include the staff with Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), Mrs. Hughs (Phyllis Logan), Ms. Baxter (Raquel Cassidy), Mr. Molesley (Kevin Doyle), Anna (Joanne Froggatt), Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle), Andy (Michael Fox), Daisy (Sophie McShera), Albert (Charlie Watson), Ms. Patmore (Lesley Nicol), Ms. Denker (Sue Johnston) and leading the household is Mr. Barrow (Robert James-Collier).
Violet wishes to have a family meeting to discuss something very important. Family lawyer Mr. Murray (Jonathan Coy) is taking too long arriving, so the announcement is that Violet has inherited a villa in the South of France from a man she knew long, long ago. An even bigger surprise is that she has changed her will to give the estate to great granddaughter Sibbie! Since she is unable to go, Robert, Cora, Tom, Lucy, Edith, Bertie and Mr. Carson are going to make the journey.
At Downton Abbey, Lady Mary has decided that their home desperately needs a new roof and with the generous offer from a studio to make a film, she and the staff stay behind. Arriving is director Jack Barber (Hugh Dancy), silent actress Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock), and silent actor Guy Dexter (Dominic West) settle in to begin filming.
Arriving in France, they are greeted by current owners Marquis de Montmirail (Jonathan Zaccai) and his mother Madame Montmirail (Nathalie Baye). There is tension in the air because Madame Montmirail is upset that her husband willed their home to someone else, but the Marquis seems serious about making sure the Crawley family knows he wants to follow his father’s wishes.
Back at the Abbey, every female is oogling Guy Dexter and envious of the beautiful Myrna Dagleish. But the magic of movie making comes with its own set of issues and the staff, especially Daisy and Anna, know how to set it right but not before Mary finds herself in the middle of it all!
Welcome back to Downton Abbey!
Bonneville and McGovern are back to lead the family into a new era as the family expands with Tom and Lucy as well as grandchildren all around. Going to France, Bonneville as Lord Grantham deals with the Dowager’s past and McGovern’s Cora has a secret of her own. What would the family be without these two actors giving us a firm grasp for seasons and now movies. They have given life and love to both the home and family that fans have adored and for which Bonneville and McGovern should forever be proud.
Dockery and Carmichael as Lady Mary and Lady Edith are the sisters who have fought for Abbey, fought each other and seem to have found middle ground in this film. Both married with their own children, now they both understand the importance of family and the heritage that is Downton Abbey. Mary finds herself at the center of Hollywood and Edith stands with her father in France.
Leech and Middleton as Tom and Lucy are the newest members of the family as happiness has finally found the former chauffer and son-in-law with his marriage to the late Sybil Crawley. Wilson and Reith as Isobel and Dickie are never far behind when it comes to being part of the family. Wilson gives Isobel the closeness and integrity to be a part of the still ill Dowager Violet.
Carter and Logan return and Mr. and Mrs. Bates and both are still dedicated to the Abbey and each other. Mr. Bates returns to help the family in France with a push from Mary and Mrs. Bates keep the staff in check as she has always done. They are everything to this household and expect a few changes that I am thrilled about.
Froggatt and Coyle as Mr. Bates and Anna are always such a joy to see. Personally, I have rooted for these two characters since their first introducing in Season One of the series. They are both such charming and sweet characters that you cannot help but be a cheerleader for them. Cassidy and Doyle are back as Miss Baxter and Mr. Molesley are still enjoying each other’s company.
James-Collier as Barrow is back and still running Downton Abbey from his long road to get there. His journey has not only been difficult but almost always self-inflicted. Age has calmed this character as he still searches for love. Nicol as Ms. Patmore is still running the kitchen with a firm hand but is interested in the goings on upstairs!
Fox and McShera as Andy and Daisy are happily married and trying to figure out the logistics of living with William’s father, Mr. Mason (Paul Copley). It’s difficult to live under someone’s else’s roof with the uncertainty of where you stand.
Dancy as Barber has a vision of the film and dealing with the changing times in films as well, turns towards Mary for help and a little bit of a crush. Haddock as Dalgleish is a woman who sees the writing on the wall for films and has a slight problem as talking pictures become the rage.
Zaccai as Montmirail is a man coming to terms with his father’s wishes and meeting Lord Grantham has questions of his own. Baye as Madame Montrmirail is not having any of it – giving away her home and giving away her home to the Dowager!
Now, we must address the elegant cup of tea in the room, the dearest, hilarious, and wonderful Maggie Smith. She is the rock of Downton Abbey even if she has had to scratch and claw her way to the position of Dowager. She has a past, and fans know this with the introduction of Russian royal in the series. Now, her past has come back again and a friendship with a gentleman in France that has the family asking so many questions. Smith has given us a character that can never, ever be duplicated with her humor, delivery of snappy one-liners (I have the coffee mug to prove it), care, wisdom and all the stamina that writer Julian Fellowes could give her.
Other cast includes Eva and Karina Samms as Marigold, Oliver and Zac Barker as George, Bibi and Olive Burr as Caroline, Archer Robbins as Johnnie, Alex Skarbek as Roussel, and Fifi Hart as Sybbie.
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DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era is another chapter of a family fans have come to know and love since 2010. It has been a journey of every human emotion, event and happening that could be imagined, and writer Julian Fellowes gave everything and so much more. The characters have given us so much more as each episode aired and then punched it through to the big screen and hoping for another.
The settings are exquisite in France, but it is at Downton where my heart always lies. Nothing wrong with a trip across the water to see something new and find out more about the Dowager’s life as a young woman, but back at ‘home’ everything is familiar, comfortable and crazy. Having Hollywood stop by give Mary what she needs to keep everything going and that’s what matters.
Let’s talk about the costuming – there is not a single thread out of place. I absolutely love that the clothing changes with the times, but it is still so beautiful to see. The clothing draws us into the times and brings the story being told such an air of believability.
The family has grown, the staff has grown, and the times have changed, and Downton Abbey stays in the heart. For fans, we have come home to a very special place!
In the end – the legacy continues!