Escaping to Downton Abbey

To the Manor born…

War. Climate Catastrophes. Strikes and Bombs and War and Refugees. There’s a real End of Times feeling to the collected crises our world is facing. It’s enough to make you want to run and hide. For me, that means running away to the movies or reading a good book.

It doesn’t matter how many critics laud Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in Joker or how many new films are about war, I’m boycotting them all to give my psyche a reprieve. Stately manner, lovely costumes, a gently told tale of class warfare of the British gentry…yes, thank you ma’am.

Having not been a follower of the BBC series, I do read reviews and have a working knowledge of Julian Fellowes’ saga. The film, Downton Abbey opens with a sweeping vista of the grand home that gives the film it’s name. It’s a pleasure to walk through those doors and bask in the company of charming people who’s problems seem slight in comparison to the world outside the theater. Who wouldn’t want to pull up an antique Edwardian chair by the fireplace and enjoy a spot of tea?

Perhaps if I’d had a deeper connection to the characters, both upstairs and down, I’d have felt more invested in the main drama. It’s hard to get worked up about staff not getting to do their jobs when it seems they all work so tirelessly anyway. The one moment of real conflict is when one of the characters decides to step outside his role and winds up in jail for being himself. It’s good to see the film tackle a serious issue. I know that the television program did this as well. It’s not all visits from the King and Queen after all; this is also an estate that must be managed and run with the need for considerable funds.

There is some good action scenes with an assassination scheme foiled and a clever conspiracy to keep the royal staff locked away. As usual it’s Maggie Smith in her role as the Grand Dame who gets the sharpest lines and has the most rigid sense of class rules. Yet in this film, we see her warm to the idea of an interloper and she becomes the focus of the films sentimentality. Downton Abbey may not be a roaring good time, but it’s a lovely interlude in our busy, stressful lives and I highly recommend it. So grab some friends and head to the local tea shop and linger over a Queen’s tea. Or plan to discuss the film over scotch and whiskeys at a local pub. You deserve the break!

Drinks With Films Rating: 3 glasses of port sipped delicately from crystal glasses (out of 5)

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