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The ‘Downton Abbey’ movie really makes you care about the problems of rich English people — and sometimes, not much else
The “Downton Abbey” movie is based on the hit TV series of the same name, which aired for six seasons. Most of the characters and places featured on the beloved series – including devoted butler Carson, and the quick-witted Dowager Countess – make an appearance in the film, too. The movie focuses on the family and staff of Downton Abbey as they prepare for a visit from the king and queen, amid plenty of other dramas. “Downton Abbey” the film is a respectful adaptation of the show, but could be alienating for some who find the plights of rich white people and their servants unappealing. Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories. An adaptation of the beloved TV show of the same name, “Downton Abbey” is set in 1927 and follows the Crawleys, a wealthy English family, and their servants as they prepare for a visit from King George and Queen Mary. The entire household of Downton is in a tizzy over the royal visit, and numerous spats erupt amongst the servants when the royal staff threatens to take their place. There’s also plenty of intrigue upstairs, too, as Dowager Countess Violet schemes to get her son, Lord Grantham, named as heir to a cousin visiting the estate along with the queen. Fans of the original show will likely be pleased with the film version, as it features most of the characters and places from the six-season series. Like the show, the film focuses on a wide cast of characters, with the stories of both servants and nobility being told throughout the movie.Read more: THEN AND NOW: The cast of ‘Downton Abbey’ But the film, with its focus on rich white people and their servants, will likely alienate those who weren’t fans of the original show. Foto: Lady Edith, played by Laura Carmichael, returns home to visit her family in “Downton Abbey.”sourceJaap Buitendijk /Focus Features Why you should care: It’s a big-screen adaptation of the beloved TV show. With the last season of “Downton Abbey” airing in the US in 2016, many fans were left wondering if they’d see the Crawleys and their quirky cast of servants ever again. Lucky for them, writer and creator Julian Fellowes decided that “Downton Abbey” should be brought to the big screen. While the show did have its detractors – many criticized the show for its conservative politics and glorification of a class-based power structure – die-hard fans of the original show will be pleased to know that the film picks up where “Downton Abbey” the series left off. Foto: Daisy (Sophie McShera, left) and Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) help cook for the king in “Downton Abbey.”sourceJaap Buitendijk/Focus Features What’s hot: The show takes a compassionate look at all the characters of ‘Downton,’ including minor servants and distant relatives. One of the appeals of the original show was its large (if not exactly diverse) cast of characters. Divided into “upstairs” characters – that is to say, landed gentry like Lord and Lady Grantham and their family – and “downstairs characters (i.e., servants and lower-class workers), “Downton Abbey” the series did an excellent job of incorporating a wide variety of story lines. The film is no different. Nearly every character gets some screen time, and while some, like Tom Branson, Lady Mary, and Carson the butler get a bit more attention, the film spends time with just about everyone at Downton. And similarly to the TV show, “Downton Abbey” does its best to make you care about the problems of the Crawleys and their servants, even when the “problems” are deciding which gown to wear to dinner with the queen, or which one of the butlers will get to serve the king his soup. Foto: In “Downton Abbey,” Tom Branson (Allen Leech) reaffirms his dedication to the Crawleys.sourceJaap Buitendijk /Focus Features What’s not: At times, some major issues are glossed over, while others are given too much importance. It’d be impossible to thoroughly examine every issue the show mentions, but still, some moments seem a bit more rushed than others. Take, for instance, a scene towards the end of the film: Thomas, the only gay character on “Downton,” gets arrested after socializing with men in a secret bar. The arrest scene is harrowing and brutal, but the whole thing is over in a matter of minutes, after Thomas’ friend and love interest bails him out by masquerading as a disgusted straight man trying to get his friend back to work on time. While they do have a sweet moment afterwards, the entire scene feels more like an afterthought than a realistic portrayal of the hardships LGBTQ people faced in the early 20th century. Foto: Robert James-Collier plays Thomas, a gay butler, in “Downton Abbey.”sourceJaap Buitendijk/Focus Features The film’s main preoccupation, rather, is the royal visit – and how the Downton servants are desperate to replace the royal staff in order to serve the king and queen. While the servants all have their separate hopes and dreams, they’re somehow united in their desire to serve dinner to royalty. It’s not that this is unrealistic, or doesn’t make for entertaining developments – indeed, one of the film’s more dramatic moments occurs when a footman speaks unprompted to the king (a huge faux pas) – it’s just that all the hand wringing about relatively minor issues can get a bit tiresome. Foto: Edith (Laura Carmichael), Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), and Mary (Michelle Dockery) all help prepare for the royal visit in “Downton Abbey.”sourceLiam Daniel/Focus Features The bottom line: ‘Downton Abbey’ is a respectful adaptation of the show, but could be alienating for those who find the plights of rich white people and their servants unappealing. The show has never pretended to be anything other than a period drama – and a pretty good one at that – but one of the movie’s major pitfalls (much like the show) is that it tends to focus too much on all the juicy drama surrounding the Crawleys, and less on the relevant issues of the times. Above all, “Downton Abbey” is a film for the fans – not for those who are put off by the problems of the upper class and the idea of live-in servants. The film meticulously makes sure every character has a voice (even if that voice isn’t very loud) and is, in general, pretty entertaining. Just don’t expect any major social or political commentary with your tea. Grade: B “Downton Abbey” premieres in theaters on Friday. Watch the trailer below. The post The ‘Downton Abbey’ movie really makes you care about the problems of rich English people — and sometimes, not much else appeared first on Business Insider Nederland.
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