Downtown Abbey is a visually appealing journey into the world of the Crawley’s complete with lavish dresses, backbiting, budding romances, and an entertaining narrative which has mass appeal. Fans of the series should be pleased, and those who are taking a chance on the film won’t be disappointed. Writer Julian Fellows certainly had to walk a fine line with this feature release. While there is undoubtedly a solid fan base, he was tasked with creating a universally appealing feature. The core fans of Downtown Abbey would certainly not be enough to make a film profitable. So how did they pull it off?
For starters, the film’s storyline was anchored in what made this series such a smashing success. Dame Maggie Smith returns as Violet and is in rare form. The Crawley family is in a tizzy because the King and Queen have announced they are staying at Downtown Abbey for a night. Amid the excitement, secrets are revealed, and revelations occur, which have a direct impact on the future of the Crawley’s.
John Lunn’s score (as expected was exquisite) and served as the perfect tone-setter. Ben Smithard’s cinematography used various wide sweeping shots which captured the grandeur of the English countryside. Anne Mary Scott’s costume design captured the period with such precision. Downtown Abbey had to hit every note with such accuracy to avoid being dismissed on a wide scale. It was a grand task to undertake, but just like the Crawley’s, it all seemingly worked perfectly.
Overall, the film was surprisingly fun for someone who has never seen the series. My only critique was I felt the narrative was a tad predictable, but that’s a minor concern. In a world where Hollywood is continually remaking and rebooting, for Downtown Abbey to pull this transition off in the manner they did is quite remarkable. One has to wonder if the film is as successful as it seems to be trending, will Focus Features approach Fellows about another film? Lord, I hope they don’t. Downtown Abbey is a fitting finale to a fantastic series.