Film Review: Downton Abbey – A New Era (2022)

Downton Abbey – A New Era will doubtless please some fans but its lazy writing and bloated ensemble prove rather unsatisfying

“I watched some of it. I’d rather eat pebbles.”

Heaven knows why I put myself through Downton Abbey – A New Era, clearly a glutton for punishment. I didn’t enjoy the first film and never watched the TV show (aside from the odd Christmas Day episode) but I remain amazed (and not a little bemused) at how Julian Fellowes gets away with writing this crap.

His popularity doesn’t escape many a fine actor and so that’s my excuse, you can’t put Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton and Penelope Wilton in a thing and ask me to ignore it. But maybe I should learn to resist as it hurts to see them under-utilised so, in such blandly inoffensive if luxuriously mounted material.

Sticking with the restless, short episodic structure, the film’s focus is bifurcated between a Singin’ in the Rain rip-off as a film crew takes over Downton whilst most of the Crawleys depart for the South of France for a period take on The Jerry Springer Show (or is it Eastenders – you ain’t my muvva…). Hugh Bonneville gets to ham embarrassingly, Maggie Smith couldn’t look more over it, Michelle Dockery deserves more.

But if you like that kind of thing, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. As an outsider, the sheer size of the ensemble is just ridiculous. Fans will doubtless enjoy seeing the Bateses once again but Joanne Froggatt and Brendan Coyle get about a line and a half between them for the whole show. Is that really that satisfying? The white sliced loaf of films…

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