“I’ve never been so delighted to be swept away by something that I did not understand.” Downton Abbey: A New Era Review
Downton Abbey: A New Era of Charm
Have you ever had a dream where you were completely unsure of where you were, who you were with, or why you were there, but the environment is so interesting that you found yourself not caring? That was my experience with Downton Abbey: A New Era.
Let me just clear this up now, right up front; I have not watched the show on which this sequel film is based (“Downton Abbey” 2010–2015), and I would therefore not be offended if you stopped reading this review right now if instead, you wanted a fan’s opinion! Feel free to click backward now.
Downton Abbey: A New Era Review
Still with me? Okay, so you clearly would like an outsider’s opinion on this film that is a sequel to another film that is based on a television show that stopped airing 7 years ago. Let me just say now that while watching this film, I came to the realization that I’ve never been so delighted to be swept away by something that I did not understand. It is similar in a way to a Michelin Star Chef’s signature dish; I do not understand what goes into making the dish, how it is prepared, or how it was even conceived; I just know it tastes good. Enough analogies (for now) let’s talk turkey (immediately broke my promise), what is this film, and why might you care?
Downton Abbey: A New Era is based on a highly popular PBS series
Downton Abbey: A New Era is as stated, based on a highly popular show that ran from 2010 to 2015. It packed 6 seasons with a total of 52 episodes and raked in an impressive 15 Emmy Awards in that time span. The show’s conclusion was followed up by a film released in 2019 under the same title and written by the show’s and New Era’s writer, Julian Fellows. Do not be mistaken in thinking that this is a case of Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” where a film is being patched together in an attempt to eke out some kind of ending. On the contrary, A New Era and the film that preceded it (which I have also seen) are a bit more like bonus episodes to the show.
While I was worried about being completely lost throughout, mercifully, for those who are a bit like me, this film, as well as the previous film featured a concise summary of the show itself (spoilers and all) to refresh the minds of fans, and hopefully educate the uninitiated. As someone wholly removed from the experience of the show, the summary was a welcome and informative overview of the show’s highlight moments, and the large cast of characters that haunt the halls of Downton Abbey.
Beyond that, this film just assumes you were paying attention through that opening info dump and takes right off without remotely attempting to hold your hand, like an older sibling who has no intention of watching over their younger brother or sister. Weirdly though, this dumb-and-run method kind of works.
Well, sort of. Based on the reactions of those around me during the film’s 2-hour and 5-minute runtime, I certainly was missing out on some of the finer points of character development, the odd revelation, and a bit of the emotional weight. However, that is not to say the film misses its mark. Quite the contrary.
Downton Abbey: A New Era features brilliant chemistry among the cast
What I found myself enjoying most about New Era is the unmistakable chemistry every single actor on screen has with one another. There was never a doubt in my mind that each of these characters knew each other well, and that each actor behind them had long established who they portrayed and how to do this well. While there is nothing particularly ground-breaking about New Era, it feels like a well-oiled machine, with every little piece having an important part to play to make the larger picture work well.
Downton Abbey: A New Era’s writing is compelling
New Era was a delight to behold. I do not fully understand it. However, it is a testament to just how well writer Julian Fellowes knows these characters that keep New Era compelling to someone who went in unable to even name a single character. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to be swept up in a film experience that is charming and wholesome for 2 hours, you do not need to have watched the show or even the previous film to appreciate all that is put forward here.
As the old saying goes, “ignorance is bliss,” and I have never been so charmed while feeling that I was appreciating the cake for its frosting alone. In fact, watching New Era has sparked in me a desire to watch the show, something that had never interested me before, so touché Focus Features/PBS, you win this round. Now if you will excuse me, I have to binge-watch a show.
About Downton Abbey: A New Era
The Crawley family goes on a grand journey to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the dowager countess’s newly inherited villa.
Runtime: 125 mins
Director: Simon Curtis
Writer: Julian Fellowes
Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Allen Leech, Tuppence Middleton, Eva Samms, Karina Samms, Imelda Staunton, Fifi Hart, Oliver Barker, Zac Barker, Samantha Bond, Laura Carmichael, Maggie Smith
Downton Abbey: A New Era is in theatres May 20, 2022
- Black Panther Wakanda Forever: The King is Dead, Long Live His Kingdom - November 9, 2022
- Lightyear – To Infinity and Beyond all Expectations - June 13, 2022
- Downton Abbey: A New Era of Charm - May 14, 2022