02 Hours 02 Minutes
Star Cast: Tuppence Middleton and Maggie Smith
Directors: Michael Engler
Producer: Julian Fellowes
In Theaters: 17 October 2019
"In A Royal Tizzy"- From TV series to feature film is a jump that writer Julian Fellowes manages to keep on track without derailment and repeating most of the characters for the big screen gives it an I-know-this-guy comfort.
In a world where political correctness rules, the charm of Downtown Abbey could come under a scanner. When there’s a clear delineation between who resides upstairs and who belongs downstairs, when those above are masters to be served by those from one floor below, and the word ‘servants’ is used without cringing, it is a different world.
But it is like a fantasy world where the upstairs and downstairs equation is without rancor, downstairs doesn’t resent its status but is rather eager to serve upstairs. British royalty in the early 90s was unbendingly rule-bound and far away from the world as we know it today.
So if you can put that reserve away, welcome to the vast estates of Downton Abbey which is in a tizzy over a one-night visit from King George the Vth and Queen Mary. The excitement downstairs where the staff can’t wait to wait upon their royalty guests is uninhibited, even the shopkeepers and suppliers are thrilled to bits to be providing the basic ingredients for the royal banquet. Upstairs, they’re equally excited but of course a bit more discreet about it.
The familiarity of Downton Abbey’s signature lilt playing in the background and the arrival of Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley with his Labrador skipping along is soothing. From TV series to feature film is a jump that writer Julian Fellowes manages to keep on track without derailment and repeating most of the characters for the big screen gives it an I-know-this-guy comfort.
It’s dynamics and personalities all the way. Besides up and down, there’s also Downton staff versus Royal staff where the latter can be quite a pain. With jealousies, rivalries, bonding and the fleetest of mysteries, there isn’t much that’s different between up and down.
The royals have their share of anxieties and secrets including illegitimate offspring, maintenance worries and inheritances denied. The staffers have their own romances and a few gay moments when they’re not plotting to upstage the royal staff.
As a storyline for a feature film, it might seem a bit weak but it works just fine when served with dollops of wit. Maggie Smith as Violet, the Dowager Countess, has the best lines in the house which she’ll bring down with her pithy and awfully well delivered lines. At one time she admonishes somebody by quoting, “Sarcasm is the lowest form of humour” but gorges herself on it. Director Michael Engler lets it brim with wit all the time.
But largely, why it works is because it’s so absurdly unapologetic about being miles away from today’s world. Like it’s a stage play laughing at itself. And it works because of its acting cast which the viewer is already acquainted with.
Verdict: For a breezy, witty visit to the lush estate of British royalty, Downton Abbey gets a 3.5* rating.
Disclaimer: We are proud that LehrenTV reviewer Bharathi S Pradhan has been appointed an advisory member of the prestigious CBFC. However, her reviews reflect her personal appraisal of a film and do not in any way speak on behalf of the Censor Board.
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