Downton Abbey

September 11, 2019

Review, Theatrical, This Week 4 Comments

...the cinematic equivalent of Brexit, if only it was that thought provoking.

Downton Abbey

Dov Kornits
Year: 2019
Rating: PG
Director: Michael Engler

Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery, Allen Leech, Jim Carter, Lesley Nicol, Imelda Staunton, Laura Carmichael, Penelope Wilton

Distributor: Universal
Released: September 12, 2019
Running Time: 122 minutes
Worth: $10.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

…the cinematic equivalent of Brexit, if only it was that thought provoking. 

We live in uncertain times and Downton Abbey provides certainty, especially for white people. Audiences who have lavished in the six seasons of the popular television show will get exactly what they came for. Whether that makes it a good film is another matter altogether.

Julian Fellowes, who came to prominence with the screenplay for one of Robert Altman’s last hurrahs, Gosford Park, has written the screenplay here, extending his footprint for the show that he also created. Without a director of nuance like Altman, though, what you get with Downton Abbey is television on the big screen, and is that enough?

The plot hinges on a royal visit to the estate, and really, that is it. Downstairs, everyone is concerned about what and how to accommodate them, whilst upstairs, various interpersonal issues arise. The MVP is Allen Leech’s Tom Branson, an Irishman who married into the Crawleys, and who actually has a compelling character arc in the film. And as expected, Maggie Smith quips all of the zingers in the screenplay.

There is zero introspection in Downton Abbey. All of the servants love the monarchy, there is barely any life for anyone outside the estate, zero diversity, there’s even a misplaced joke about Botany Bay – it’s the cinematic equivalent of Brexit, if only it was that thought provoking. The dialogue is highly expository, especially as things wind up and the big twist is revealed.

Rome is burning, whilst everything is hunky dory in Downton Abbey. What’s worse is that this blockbuster (its wholly uncinematic approach gives a bad name to ‘blockbuster’) will mean that better and far more cinematic films are barely released, or worse still, go straight to streaming platforms, which is exactly where Downton Abbey belongs.



  1. Chris Brown

    Why do movie reviews always have to bring in the politics of the day?
    Sometimes, the public watches movies to get AWAY from the realities of the day.
    Always bringing in politics is why the majority find those that do it so tiresome.

    1. Dov Kornits

      Hey Chris, I fully acknowledged why this film exists and why it will be popular, it doesn’t mean that it’s a good film. What someone looks for in a good film is highly subjective, and this is our take on it. This type of review being tiresome says something about the public, it doesn’t mean that it’s right. The public, in most cases just reads the marketing materials, rather than a review. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing in our opinion, but it is the way of the world, and we will keep plugging away at what we do.

  2. Fred Haering

    For my part, “Downton Abby” brings history to life — with the splendour of the day, the decor, apparel, likely the questions that each generation MAY have posed. Excellent writing, cinematography and of course superb acting. Anyone wishing to relate to it… well.. you didn’t live in those times. This is English upper class history & a different time than anyone alive would have lived today. Sit back & enjoy the ride. There is nothing to judge —- just enjoy & be glad the human race has created cinematography to chronicle & depict our history on this planet!

  3. Barry Russell

    Seeing this lavish production on a huge cinema screen returned me back into my memory bank of when films were made to take us to the places that we could never expect to explore and meet up with characters we feel we know.

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