Downton Abbey

Totally engrossing. For me this was clearly the biggest surprise hit of 2019.

Downton AbbeyLet me start with a confession. Though I try to see three or four movies each week, I watch very little TV. While I admittedly missed a lot of great series like Game of Thrones, that included not watching one moment of Downton Abbey. As a result, I went to the movie with no prior knowledge of any of the characters and expected very little.  

But as noted, what a gigantic surprise it turned out to be. Great acting surrounded by a drama that played out on multiple levels, the film captured the attention of everyone the longer it lasted.

No one stood out more than the great actresses Maggie Smith and Imelda Staunton, playing the Countess of Grantham and her antagonist Maud Bagshaw. Ms. Smith’s quick wit resulted in her being one of the funniest actresses to appear on screen in quite some time. As for Ms. Staunton, she sought to justify her decision to give a large inheritance to Lucy (Tuppence Middleton), her personal assistant, and her secret was not revealed until the film’s conclusion. And for those of you who don’t know who Ms. Staunton is, then hunt down her extraordinary performances in Vera Drake (2004).

The film is really a throwback to the 1920s when Downton Abbey learns that King George V and the Queen Mary were coming for a brief visit. Trouble ensues when the King brings his own servants which forced Downton Abbey’s crew to remain confined to the basement. Confrontation follows that was as amusing as it was entertaining.

While there are no bad performances coming from this marvelous cast, Hugh Bonneville stands out as Robert Crawley, a man in charge Downton, as did Jim Carter as the Butler Charles Carson who was asked to return from his retirement to take care of the King and Queen. In addition, Michelle Dockery is stunning in her role as Crawley’s grand-daughter, Lady Mary Talbot, and the entire kitchen help are a dedicated group that dominates a film otherwise focusing on their employers.

I really don’t want to say more as the most of you are far more familiar with these characters than myself. Let me just say that the movie will bring a tear to the eyes of many of you as you watch husbands and wives rediscover each other, an aging loved one confronting looming death and a set of servants finding meaning in life.

I left the theater with a wide smile on my face.