It was a hot and bright day recently, when standing outside the shiny Lincoln Center Plaza of New York, a tell-tale sign that there would be an exciting and energetic crowd entering the MET Opera House for the premiere of Downton Abbey: The New Era, a period drama, and the latest sequel of what I call a franchise. This crowd had fans who did not disappoint, in long lines of mostly well-dressed/colorful people, coming from all walks of life, wearing stylish looks, some from the roaring 1920s, which mimics the time in which the story takes place. As the glitz and glam continued outside with the red carpet arrivals of stars, at a nearby tent, and the paparazzi took firework-like flashes of photography of them all around: I decided to make my return inside the iconic Met Opera House. There, you are always amazed by the high ceiling, elegant entrance hall of this landmark, and standing on the gorgeous red carpet entrance, lit by big chandelier lighting, you are tempted to do what everyone else wishes to do, when having first dibs: take pictures and selfies! But then time flew by and all guests needed to get seated for showtime; so, for future reference, if you are lucky to spot stars filing into their seating: there is the chance to see the cast. Once the lights of the theater went dim, to the centerstage came out the director, Simon Curtis, Oscar winning writer, Julian Fellowes, and the producer, Liz Trubridge, then the audience clapped. Following a quick introductory presentation, much of the main cast then briefly were called out, and as they lined up and waved, that brought cheers from the audience. After they all waved then exited the stage, the big screen appeared and the film began.
For those of you who have not followed Downton Abbey (series 2010-2015), and/or Downton Abbey, A Motion Picture (2019), it is not necessary to have watched all to be able to follow the plot of this new sequel, Downton Abbey: The New Era, since it easily flows through a sequence of events to understand what is going on for quick catch up. But it would be helpful to see the series, especially if you wish to try falling in love with characters, whom die hard fans have faithfully followed over the years. In short, Downton Abbey is a fictional period piece that follows the expanding / multi-generational Crawley family and their charismatic team of servants at the Crawleys’ grand home, called Downton Abbey, which has been filmed in real life at a castle in England. While the whole plot of Downton Abbey: The New Era shall not be gone over here, as it is best to see the film in theaters, a personal review of the film shall be shared instead. That being said, this is the part where it is warned that there are some **spoilers ahead**…To summarize, in this sequel, the Crawley family accepted a deal to have a silent film to be shot for pay at the property to cover home repairs and meanwhile, members of the household split up to journey to the South of France to find answers about the surprise inheritance of a villa to the Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley. While many characters reprise their roles, it was nice to see the actor of The Wire series, Dominic West, play a fictional star actor, Guy Dexter, who must meet the challenges of transitioning from silent to sound film, all while contemplating his surprise advances towards recruiting the accommodating Thomas Barrow, who is employed at Downton Abbey. Meanwhile, there’s a little bit of suspense when following Lady Mary, who is verbally dubbed by her father, Robert Crawley, as the new matriarch in charge, since she is roped into helping and supporting the young film director in town, Jack Barber. To her, he is attractive and he tries to woo her while they both work together to keep the problematic silent film from stalled production. Will Lady Mary and Jack hook up, in the midst of her husband’s long absence? That answer ends up not leaning towards the predictable, compared to the fact that many supporting characters, as an audience member said to sum it up: “find love” in final scenes. While there are a few clever twists and turns (such as the revelation of the true story behind the villa’s beneficiary and the mystery eventually solved about the paternity of Robert Crawley) during the story unraveling, there is at least one minor part that is just plain predictable. For example, the initial hints of a serious illness for Cora Crawley later de-escalates when it is revealed to her and her loving husband, Robert, that it is a non-life threatening condition…but that could have instead resulted in the twist of an untimely death shocker. Instead, it is the amusing and comedic character, Countess Violet, who eventually dies after previous scenes foretelling her death, which brought no suspense. However, the brilliant screenplay does, at times, push the envelope with otherwise before its time topics and it was enjoyable, for example, to see the tables turn by surprise, when the servants have an unexpected opportunity to get off duty to participate as extras in an elegant dining scene for filming of the silent motion picture on location. So, the conflicts (that are what generally make every film a masterpiece) in this film were mostly all ultimately addressed, which brings the question after the movie was over: does Downton Abbey: A New Era mean the story really ends now?
After the movie finished there were claps and cheers. As a matter of fact, some fans or spectators had cried in reaction to some previous scenes; so, overall there was a positive reception. As one of the last to exit the building, I politely said goodbye to the staff and sighed in relief that it was not a waste of time. I felt like the experience met one of those nice reasons to go back to the theater: i.e., to see a lovely film, to people watch, and to enjoy the “oohs and aahs” that could only uniquely be heard live in theaters. But getting back to the film: I would rate it as very good and deem it a feel-good drama. Moreover, the film has charming lines by witty characters and beautiful cinematography at scenic locations of the world. Although I think that the film should have been called Downton Abbey: The End of an Era, with the death of the beloved character, Violet Crawley, and the hint of the 1920s decade ending: there is room for the franchise to not truly end its run just yet. While many sagas are best not to drag on as “all good things must come to an end”, there are loyal fans who could possibly see the story continue, especially since my suspicions were true after hearing the creator’s hints that all is not final on closing the book yet. So, if you first read it here, then you first heard it here, there may be a new era for Downton Abbey fans after all.
Keila is a Screenwriter, Film Director, Producer, Content Writer, Poet, and Event Organizer, who has years of diverse experience as a professional. She also serves as an Associate Producer for TV/Film/Animation production company. Keila is promoting her award-winning film. She has other projects on her slate. Keila also chairs a board chapter role in the NAMIC. Keila speaks English and Spanish. Her hidden talents include singing, acting, editing, and cooking. Hobbies include traveling, being on a production set, watching film, attending events as a fashionista, and helping others.