Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection

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Reviewed by Cheryl Benton and Ellen Easton

Editors Note: Cheryl Benton, publisher The Three Tomatoes, and 3T contributor and tea expert, Ellen Easton were invited to a press preview of Downton Abbey and we are delighted to provide this review. Downton Abbey opens in theaters nationwide on September 20, 2019.

Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection
Producer Gareth Neame, writer and producer Julian Fellowes and actor Michelle Dockery on the set of DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Focus Features

The return to Downton Abbey has been a rather extraordinary, at times almost surreal, experience.  We finished filming the last season in 2015, made sure that all the characters were safely tucked up in their lives, said goodbye to them, marked the moment with a wonderful wrap party in the Ivy Club, and that, I thought, was that.  But it seemed the public was not yet quite prepared to be parted from the Crawleys and their servants and the rumours of a film grew and grew until Gareth Neame and the rest of the team felt unable to resist them.  And so the film was born.” ~ Julian Fellowes

For Downton Abbey fans, from the moment you hear the ground swell of the familiar opening theme song and see the camera swooping in on a view of the estate your heart will be aflutter. We loved every second of this glorious film and when it ended two hours later with a spectacular waltz scene with the Crawleys in their best finery and sparkling tiaras celebrating their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary of England, we wanted to linger longer.

Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection
Michelle Dockery stars as Lady Mary and Matthew Goode as Henry Talbot in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / Focus Features
Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection
Elizabeth McGovern stars as Cora Crawley and Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley and in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC

The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking with soaring views of Downton Abbey and other spectacular estates. The interior shots are rich with the splendid details of this magnificent home.

Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection
Phyllis Logan stars as Mrs. Hughes, Jim Carter as Mr. Carson, Kevin Doyle as Mr. Molesley, Raquel Cassidy as Miss Baxter, Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates, Brendan Coyle as Mr. Bates, Sophie McShera as Daisy, Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Patmore, Robert James-Collier as Thomas Barrow and Michael Fox as Andy in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC

Not much time has passed since we last saw the Crawley’s. It’s now 1927 and the story opens with a message from the palace that King George V and Queen Mary will be visiting Downton. This sets the entire household, upstairs and downstairs, into a frenzy of excitement and preparations for the impending visit, which temporarily brings Carson out of retirement.

Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection
Jim Carter stars as Mr. Carson in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC
Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection

With a dazzling parade and lavish dinner to orchestrate, Mary, now firmly at the reins of the estate, faces the greatest challenge to her tenure as head of Downton. And so the story unfolds.

Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection
Dame Maggie Smith stars as Violet Crawley and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC

All of our favorite characters are back, and no one disappoints. The extraordinary Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess, playing off Penelope Wilton as Isobel Merton, has some wonderful witty and snarky lines that will have you laughing out loud.

The period clothes are divine

Anna Robbins, the costume designer for the series and the film, stated she used a lot of vintage, authentic pieces, and designed around them, either restoring, customizing, or using vintage fabrics and doing something new.

Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection
Laura Carmichael stars as Lady Edith, Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley and Michelle Dockery stars as Lady Mary in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Liam Daniel / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC

Her favorite costume in the movie?  Lady Mary’s ball gown. 

Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection
Michelle Dockery stars as Lady Mary, Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley and Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jason Bell / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC

The Food Preparations, Tea, and a Lavish Dinner

Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection
Michelle Dockery stars as Lady Mary, Robert James-Collier as Thomas Barrow, Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley and Allen Leech as Tom Branson in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC

The dining and afternoon tea scenes are the epitome of civility in full force. Every nuance of preparation is attended to the tiniest characteristic.  From the patina of the silver, to the glistening settings of each table no detail has been left off of the screen.

Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection

Indeed, I think we would all like to have a Mrs. Patmore tending to our kitchen.  The interactions between the downstairs staff and the family members they serve are tenderly portrayed to show the important reliance each had on the other. With a watchful eye, lessons can be learned in more ways than one.

Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection
Lesley Nicol stars as Mrs. Patmore, Sophie McShera as Daisy, Jim Carter as Mr. Carson and Phyllis Logan as Mrs. Hughes in DOWNTON ABBEY, a Focus Features release. Credit: Jaap Buitendijk / © 2019 Focus Features, LLC

A Delightful, Delicious, Delectable Film Experience

Downton Abbey, the film, is Perfection

The film, directed by Michael Engler, is a sensual and emotional treat that will have fans of the PBS series clamoring for more and will have moviegoers who have not seen the series, binge watching late into the night.

Thank you, Julian Fellowes for creating a masterpiece that will be treasured for many years to come.  

Cheryl and Ellen

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