Downton Abbey (2019): Film Review
I never really understood the hype behind the British hit series Downton Abbey, and the empire it corner-stoned for five years and six seasons in the television world. For me, it was simply a series of unimportant problems that played like a soap opera, and possessed little depth when looking at anything deeper than the surface. I didn't laugh at the humor, I didn't relate to the characters, and most of all, I just didn't like the show. Regardless, I watched the first five seasons willingly with the rest of my family, and luckily got out of watching season six, as I was simply done with the series and could watch no longer. I worked myself into a sort of freedom from watching a show that I wasn't really a fan of, and when creator and writer Julian Fellowes announced that a Downton Abbey movie would be on its way in a few years, I thought it was a joke. Well, if its September 20th release date means anything, it's that it was not a joke. Yes, a Downton Abbey movie exists, and no, it's not as bad as you would expect. The film continues the story of all of the major Downton Abbey characters, resuming where we left off at the end of season six where every main character was happy, healthy, and alive. And for those of you who can't seem to put a finger on what exactly happened in the final season, or any other season for that matter, don't worry: the actors behind the Butler Mr. Carson and Housekeeper Mrs. Hughes explain every single detail you need to know in a ten minute video before the film. Once we are fully invested into the film, and reunited with the characters that we have learned to love, we are introduced to the plot-line that anchors the 130 minute film: the king and queen of England are coming to Downton Abbey as a pit stop on their summer tour. And from there, all hell breaks loose as a variety of subplots arise, each putting every character in some sort of debacle that the viewer is violently thrown into. To me, the Downton Abbey movie is like the Toy Story 4 of the Downton Abbey universe: it has no avid reason to exist, and simply builds onto an already completed story arc, but while it's here, it's pretty nice to watch. As someone who really didn't like the series, I was a fan of the movie, partly because I have a new appreciation for a series that I probably couldn't fully understand as a fifth grader, but partly because by seeing Highclere Castle and all of it's residents once again, I was instantly it with a pang of nostalgia that reminded me of the good ole days, and simpler times. As for the plot, the film plays exactly like a normal episode of the TV show does, but it's just a little bit longer. There are still a bunch of little quickly resolved conflicts amidst a giant plot that seems to control all the action going on around the "abbey", just like your commonplace TV episode, and we still get all the usual traditions - camera pan outs, the booming orchestra, and the infamous rift between grandmother Violet and Isabel Crawley, the Downton BFF's, who I just still do not find funny. So, at least one thing hasn't changed. It all comes down to this. Downton Abbey is not a game changer in any sort of way. It's simply a cash grab, and plays as more of the same kind of content that we saw in the original six seasons. There is nothing new here, nothing at all. But sometimes, a changeless medium isn't anything to be angry about, because the film is still wildly entertaining and a nostalgic joy to watch. Live, love, Downton, I guess?