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Downton Abbey A New Era (film 2022): John C Adams Reviews

Show name: Downton Abbey A New Era

Release date: 2022

Genre: Period drama

Starring: Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville

Directed by: Simon Curtis

Studio: Universal

Length: 125 minutes

Rating: 5/5

Like many successful franchises, Downton Abbey has been running for a long time and has spawned offshoots from its original six seasons.

This period drama is set from 1912 to 1928. It follows the inter-generational fortunes of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants.

It is set largely in their ancestral home, Downton Abbey, Yorkshire.

The genesis of Downton Abbey is an interesting one.

It is clearly inspired by the 1970s British period drama Upstairs, Downstairs, in that it features equally both the lives of the family above stairs and their many servants.

However, Julian Fellowes, who created the franchise for ITV, previously made a film with a similar focus called Gosford Park.

There is a clear line of succession between these different dramas.

I am providing a review of the latest film associated with the franchise along with a review of Season One. The latter is a good starting point for the series, but the film is also a self-contained story in its own right.

Downton Abbey: A New Era

The most recent outing for the Crawley family and their servants took place in the 2022 film Downton Abbey: A New Era.

It is now 1928, and the film begins with a marriage between a former maid and former chauffeur. It quickly divides into two plot strands.

The first plot strand involves Robert, Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) and his wife Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) travelling to the south of France. They go with their married daughter Edith, a journalist, (Laura Carmichael) and her husband Bertie (Harry Haddon-Paton) and Robert’s cousin Maud (Imelda Staunton). The newly weds go along too.

The ostensible reason for the visit is to solve the mystery of why Robert’s widowed mother Violet (Maggie Smith) has been left a villa in the South of France by a French aristocrat she met fleetingly sixty years before.

The other plot strand remains at Downton Abbey.

The location filming for the abbey takes place at Highclere House, Berkshire.

It is customary in this franchise for the house to play a central role in the drama by appearing as the location for a large share of the scenes.

Robert’s eldest daughter Mary (Michelle Dockery) remains at Downton Abbey to oversee filming by a production company. The director (Hugh Dancy) becomes enamoured of Lady Mary, and her help (and that of various staff members) is invaluable to the success of his film.

The late 1920s saw the transition from silent movies to ‘the talkies’, and Downton Abbey: A New Era portrays the struggles of two actors (Dominic West and Laura Haddock) to embrace the new speaking-film technology. Everyone below stairs is fascinated by having film stars staying there, and even Mary is drawn into the glamour of it all.

Watching Downton Abbey: A New Era I was reminded of just how far all the characters had come since the franchise began back in 2010.

Season One

Season One of Downton Abbey opens on the morning after the Titanic sank. The arrival of a telegram breaks the devastating news to Robert, Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) that his heir and his heir’s son have both drowned.

This puts in train an immediate scramble to discover who will now inherit the title and the estate.

Robert and his American wife Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) have three daughters. The absence of a son had made Robert’s cousin his heir.

The new heir turns out to be a more distant cousin, a middle-class lawyer from Manchester called Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) who is unmarried. This triggers a bidding war to marry him on the part of at least two of Robert’s daughters.

However, the initial response to Matthew’s appearance is varied. More traditional family members, such as the dowager countess (Maggie Smith) and butler (Jim Carter) are disapproving. Mary, the eldest daughter (Michelle Dockery), spars with Matthew but there is growing romantic tension between the two.

Meanwhile, below stairs, the romantic and employment ambitions of the staff develop. Anna, the head house maid, (Joanne Froggatt) is intrigued by the new valet, the mysterious John Bates (Brendan Coyle). Housemaid Gwen (Rose Leslie) is determined to leave service and work as a secretary. Chauffeur Tom Branson (Allen Leech) falls in love despite the many obstacles involved.

Season One ends with the outbreak of World War One. Some, but by no means all, of the many challenges facing family and staff alike have been resolved.

Thank you for reading my review.

Click on this link to buy this film from Amazon on Prime Video via affiliate marketing, for which I receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting John C Adams Reviews blog in this way.

You can also buy Downton Abbey: A New Era via Amazon on DVD using this link or on Blu Ray using this link

John C Adams Reviews Downton Abbey A New Era

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