It’s time to discover what critics have made of this latest film instalment based on the hit television series.
The Guardian: *** “It is of course several leagues below Fellowes’s original country-house movie – Gosford Park from 2001, directed by Robert Altman – and some plot ideas about the glamorous world of Hollywood movies have in fact been cheekily recycled from that film. And there is another borrowing (cheekier still) from Singin’ in the Rain. All this is something that will (understandably) annoy many, and this film may well try the patience of non-fans. But there is something diverting about the deadly serious melodrama and bizarre glassy-eyed pathos that Downton 2 is serving up.”
The Observer: ** “In the collision between aristocracy and the world of entertainment, writer Julian Fellowes pays loving tribute to himself and his breakthrough film, Gosford Park. But a plot device that hinges on the transition between the silent movie era and the talkies is lifted rather more obviously from Singin’ in the Rain. It’s a comparison that does this artless cash-in no favours.”
The Hollywood Reporter: “Curtis and editor Adam Recht cross-cut between Yorkshire and France with a galumphing lack of grace, often accompanied by a jaunty burst of John Lunn’s lush orchestral score and someone mid-peal of laughter. Or by somber notes and a character deep in furrowed-brow concern. It’s all a bit mechanical, and soapier than ever, particularly since few problems arise that can’t be swiftly resolved in a script that diligently ties up everything in neat bows.”
The Daily Mail: *** “So what now for the Downton saga? My own hope is that Fellowes will be brave enough next time – and there will surely be a next time – to embrace a genuinely new era and let the Crawleys flog their ancestral home to the nation. After all, Downton is the gift that keeps on giving; how apt it would be to give it a National Trust gift shop.”
The Spectator: “I do have a soft spot for Downton, it’s true, but those whose storylines have previously been resolved – Lady Edith, Anna, Bates – are left kicking their heels and what happens in the south of France can stay in the south of France, as far as I’m concerned. Old slippers? Sometimes they have to go.”
Evening Standard: *** “Fellowes has learnt a lot from Agatha Christie. Want to know the big difference between them? Fellowes thinks it’s tragic when a rich and powerful person pops their clogs. A New Era is funnier and sharper than Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile. But it’s still ludicrously sentimental and formulaic. When Fellowes slips in a reference to David Copperfield, it’s hard not to cringe. Dickens, Shakespeare, Wilde and Christie. Fellowes loves these writers, but – unlike them – his success doesn’t seem built to last.”
The Scotsman: ** “Perhaps the best that can be said about Downton Abbey: A New Era is that it’s compulsively pleasant.”
The Arts Desk: **** “A dozen years have passed since Downton Abbey first landed on our TV screens, since when it has passed into folklore. Whether you thought it was escapist historical froth, a ludicrous anachronism full of class-system clichés or a documentary probing the British aristocracy, Downton has lodged itself in the national consciousness, probably forever.”
The Sun: ** “While this might please super-fans of the long-running series, the hammy acting and pointless storyline makes the era of Downton Abbey feel very old indeed.”
The Wrap.com: “Fans of the television series may not care. The director, Simon Curtis (who is coincidentally married to McGovern) ensures that they get what they want, e.g., enviable tailoring, swirling orchestral music, whooshing drone shots of the Granthams’ honey-colored home, and a comforting, relentlessly nice atmosphere in which every crisis can be sorted out in minutes, and every unattached person has a soulmate waiting for them.”
The Independent: ** “if there’s one thing Downton has been able to rely on after all this time, it’s the way stars like Penelope Winton or Elizabeth McGovern can muster up chemistry even when they’re working off a paper-thin script. And the film, of course, is deliciously ornamented by production designer Donal Woods and costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins.”
Downton Abbey: A New Era is in cinemas now.