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Rejoice, Downtonians! Downton Abbey: A New Period is a worthy entry in Julian Fellowes’ beloved franchise. You had been proper to be involved, in fact. The acclaimed TV drama’s first foray onto the large display screen, 2019’s Downton Abbey, felt like a glorified vacation particular; it’s no shock that Parasite, the far superior tackle the identical Upstairs, Downstairs premise, utterly overshadowed it by way of cultural significance. And the truth that Focus Options twice postponed A New Period, from December 2021 to March after which to Might, wasn’t precisely reassuring. However the sequel manages to rekindle that outdated feeling proper from the opening frames, set to the identical John Lunn rating that dependably despatched chills via Viewers Like You many a Sunday, simply the way in which Alabama 3’s “Woke Up This Morning” did to followers of The Sopranos—solely this time Downton does so with out Laura Linney’s intro.
Violet (Maggie Smith), the Dowager Countess, comes into possession of a villa within the south of France left by her outdated flame, the Marquis de Montmirail, whose widow (Nathalie Baye) vows to contest his will in court docket. Unexpectedly, the Montmirails invite the Crawleys to go to. For some motive, the ordinarily pasty Robert (Hugh Bonneville), Earl of Grantham, seems trim and tanned earlier than even setting foot in France. As a lot of the Crawleys depart to uncover lurid particulars of the Dowager’s previous affair, the Dowager herself and Girl Mary (Michelle Dockery) keep behind.
Whereas the earlier movie is nothing greater than a superfluous comedy of manners led to by a royal go to to the property, the sequel finds Fellowes revisiting a few of his collection’ most enduring tropes. With the respective arrivals of electrical energy, phone, toaster, fridge, mixer, radio, and so forth., the Downton crew has at all times greeted new expertise with apprehension. The schtick of them struggling to adapt to fashionable conveniences that we take with no consideration by no means will get outdated, and Fellowes is as much as his outdated methods as soon as extra with a silent movie-era solid and crew having a go at making a sound image at Downton.
You see, there are some leaks within the attic. To finance the home’s expensive repairs, the Crawleys reluctantly settle for a proposal from filmmaker Jack Barber (Hugh Dancy) to hire out components of Downton for the pictures of a “kinematograph” named The Gambler, starring Man Dexter (Dominic West) and Myrna Dalgleish (Laura Haddock). Earlier than solid and crew actually have a likelihood to wear down their welcome, British Lion suspends manufacturing as a result of talkies are in demand. Mary, enterprising as ever, encourages Jack to show the doomed undertaking right into a sound image, which faucets into many hidden skills at Downton. It occurs that Myrna has a hopeless cockney accent unsuitable for talkies, so Jack enlists Mary to dub over her strains. This sends Myrna right into a diva match which the maids, Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Daisy (Sophie McShera), attempt to mediate. Former valet-butler-footman Molesley (Kevin Doyle), apparently a lover of dramatic arts, steps in underneath the wire to formulate dialogue from scratch.
All of it will get a bit meta, which is jolly good enjoyable certainly. Viewers might recall a PBS behind-the-scenes look at Highclere Citadel, the real-life Downton, and the way the present has enabled costly renovations to the property. Additionally, it’s cute for the downstairs Downton workers to behave all starstruck and giddy over the prospect of being extras within the movie-within-a-movie, when these collection regulars are, to Downtonians at the very least, a lot greater stars than West and Haddock, with all due respect.
As with many collection, Downton is most emotionally resonant when beloved characters—memorably Dan Stevens’ Cousin Matthew and Jessica Brown Findlay’s Girl Sybil—out of the blue depart. Over time, the present variously teased the probabilities of Girl Mary and Anna heading for America (which little doubt impressed The Gilded Age), Daisy quitting to turn out to be a secretary, the butler Barrow (Robert James-Collier) discovering love, the Dowager Countess completely leaving, and so forth., however didn’t comply with via with these concepts. Lastly, 12 years after the collection’ premier episode aired, there are a handful of high-profile departures in A New Period certain to hit Downtonians within the feels.
Not like Michael Engler, who helmed the primary Downton function, director Simon Curtis has by no means labored on the present (although he’s tangentially related to the franchise via his spouse, Elizabeth McGovern, Cora the Countess of Grantham herself). However, the appear and feel of A New Period evoke its small-screen origins. There are periodic establishing photographs exhibiting the outside of Downton in all its glory—an editorial selection that solely is smart for telly. However Downtonians will probably really feel all too joyful to go to this solid of characters once more, and right here Fellowes reminds us how we received so invested of their lives within the first place.
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