A Royal Visit to Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey the Movie poster CR: Focus Features

The Stream: Better if you have some knowledge of the series, but enjoyable nonetheless.

The Big Screen: The majesty and opulence of Downton Abbey in all its glory and that iconic theme gets stuck in your head.

The Final Bill: A must-see for Downton Abbey fans, and not a bad couple hours for the general audience.

Run time: 2 hours and 2 minutes
Director: Michael Engler
Genre: Drama
Rating: PG
-Trip Fontaine

Welcome back to Stream to Big Screen!  This week we bring to you a review of the popular PBS miniseries turned drama series brought to the big screen, Downton Abbey!

It’s 1927, and Downton Abbey is still up and running. Not much seems to have changed since we last saw the Crawleys on the small screen. Lady Mary and, brother-in-law, Tom Branson are still running the business of the Abbey. Lady Edith is happily married although the life as Marchioness of Hexham is not as fulfilling as she had hoped. Robert and Cora continue blissful married life. The Dowager Countess is as quippy as ever. And, the staff keep the whole thing chugging along.

After the series ended three years ago, other than pure fan service, the occasion that brings us back to Downton is that the King and Queen are coming to the Abbey for a royal luncheon, a parade and a dinner. It sends everyone in a tizzy, both upstairs and downstairs. It really just becomes pure fun to see the preparation for a royal visit – the food, the wardrobe changes, the pomp and circumstance. Beyond that, this cast of characters trading barbs and knowing glances is just what the Downton fan ordered. Each character gets his or her moment to shine. Maggie Smith is always a standout here. Julian Fellowes’ script is laced with one-liners and tender touches that are expected of the best Downton Abbey episode.

There are a couple subplots to fill out the story that do not amount to much, but are fine diversions. Everything seems to work out in the end. Time goes by, but ultimately, it seems that Downton Abbey will endure.

S2S Rating Scale

For the Downton fans, it is absolutely worth it to see in the theater. The sets and costumes never looked as good as they do on the big screen. Just being back at the dinner table amidst the back and forth of the Dowager Countess and Lady Isobel is enough for a 2 hour stay. The theme of Downton comes on and you’re just swept away. 

For those who did not watch the series, it is still a good movie. It is funny and light. The film is well-paced and beautiful to look at. The only slight hesitation is whether history of the characters is necessary for enjoyable viewing, but it’s good enough that without any foreknowledge of the history of the family someone willing to see Downton will enjoy it.