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Downton Abbey: A New Era  (DVD)


Stars: Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Harry Hadden-Paton, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Sophie McShera, Tuppence Middleton, Lesley Nicol, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton, Penelope Wilton, Dominic West, Laura Haddock, Hugh Dancy, Samantha Bond, Raquel Cassidy, Sue Johnston, Nathalie Baye, Jonathan Zaccai

Director: Simon Curtis

The formula is looking more than a little strained in this, probably the final chapter in the 'upstairs-downstairs' chronicles of the House of Grantham.

The Dowager Lady Violet (Smith) has, thanks to an episode in her murky past, been left an extensive property in the south of France, while Lady Mary (Dockery), aware that the money involved will fund much needed repairs to the Abbey, has allowed a film unit permission to stage scenes from their latest production within Downton's hallowed walls.

While Lord G sweats over the possibility that he may be the son of the recently-deceased Frenchman who had a fling with Lady V, back at Downton Barrow the gay butler pulls the leading man (West), the director (Dancy) almost pulls Lady Mary, and the film is halted with the coming of sound, a disaster for the cockney tones of the leading lady (Haddock).

Any tension on either side of the channel, however, evaporates with the summer sun. When Lady Grantham's daughter tells her she 'looks tired', a possible tragedy is telegraphed all too clearly in advance. The familiar music attempts to swing things along, but the hackneyed dialogue drips through the film like treacle. Hampered by this, almost all of the cast have done better work before. And the intimate criss-cross interplay of characters is much missed.

In the last 40 minutes, though, the picture does pick up, tugging unsubtly but effectively at our emotions, with happy endings for several of the series' much-loved characters.

David Quinlan

UK 2022. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by Company 3.
120 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 25 May 2022