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  • Colin Fraser


THREE STARS The King and Queen are to visit Downton Abbey, throwing those upstairs and down into a panic.

Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith


Picking up where the hugely popular TV series left off, the staff and residents of Downton Abbey are thrown into a spin when the King and Queen of Britain announce they’ll be paying a visit. Never one to encumber his glorified soap opera with multi-layered narrative, the awfully clever Julian Fellows (GOSFORD PARK) doesn’t stray from formula for a second to ensure DOWNTON ABBY the film is nothing more than a double-episode of Downton Abby the TV series. His fans expect exactly that, and have not been disappointed.

It’s business as usual all over the mansion with every character given an opportunity to reinforce their most loveable traits (Daisy becomes a kitchen socialist, Mr Barrow finally gets a kiss, for instance) framed against an invasion by the Royal household. Downtown’s staff aren’t permitted to serve royalty and protest before staging a revolt. There’s a minor plot line in which one of the Queen’s aids (Imelda Staunton) decides to leave her worldly possessions to her maid and not her cousin Lord Grantham. Intrigue and outrage follow, but mostly it’s a device to allow the Grantham’s mother (Maggie Smith) to roil at injustice and deliver the film’s best lines. And so it goes.

Anyone new to the series might well wonder what all the fuss is all about, but this is not for them. DOWNTON ABBEY is an unapologetically self-indulgent treat for fans as Fellowes takes us on another glittering spin around the stately block firing off self-deprecating nods to the series and Comic Relief thus ensuring everyone has a right old time (though to be honest, once you've seen the parody it's impossible to see Downton in any other light ever again).

With “enough clichés to get you through the visit”, it’s an absolute warm-and-fuzzy winner, a guilty pleasure, a PG-rated wallow in a world long gone, a perfect date and/or take-mother-to-the-movies movie.

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