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Downton Abbey: A New Era

Downton Abbey: A New Era

The sprawling period drama returns to the big screen for a giddy swirl of lawns and penguin suits.

The giant period drama returns to the big screen for a whirlwind of lawns and penguin suits.

The dwindling funds and past misadventures are brought to light as Downton Abbey cast dusts off and reappears for a feature-length outing in A New Era. Set in the late 1920s, before the Wall Street Crash, this second long-form installment of the behemoth TV series hints at how the gentry is fading away, so they must find themselves somewhat less vulnerable if they are to survive. Should be taken seriously.

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Maggie Smith’s Violet, dowry-witted and head of the Crawley family, says at one point, “Don’t drive me, I’m not a racing car!” But run what she plots. Smith Charm as the twinkling matriarch shunning rock bottom. Delighted, she breaks the news that she has been abandoned to a villa in the south of France by an old flame that has generously popped its clogs.

Mumbling about the “French”, Hugh poses as Robert of Bonneville and leaves for the Riviera to learn more about this mysteriously bequeathed estate. There are some harsh, excruciating exchanges between English and French families as the pop-eyed ‘I say!’ Among the dull games of tennis abound. Age-old sports-gear and swimwear are paraded, expertly coordinated by costume designer Anna Robbins.

Meanwhile back home, Lady Mary, played by Michelle Dockery, is left to her own devices and agrees to allow Hollywood to invade Downton because of the need for cash to fix a leaky roof. Is. Even the elite have maintenance issues – that fact sparks a confusing cocktail of schadenfreude and sympathy. The decision to allow actors into the abbey is very upsetting to the Earl, and much to the delight of most of the servants.

Despite their rudeness, the celebrities who enter the house scramble to join. This introduction of a new kind of elitist disturbs class dynamics—glamorous, spoiled actress Myrna Daglish is screen royalty but speaks with a Cockney accent. However, the subtleties of the changing social hierarchy are muted, as pointy elbows of self-reference gracefully nudge, whispering, “Gedit? Actor, acting as an actor in a movie about actors!”

Hugh Dancy plays an impotent satire as film director Jack Barber, who politely disguises Lady Mary. Her husband is inexplicably absent—often mentioned, he never emerges, leaving room for romantic seduction. As for the added drama, production is in trouble, as silent films are falling out of fashion in favor of “talkies”, and Mary is determined to help save the day. The details of the early filmmaking processes and materials provide some playful meta-historical intrigue. The props and costume manage to twist lushly through its period details.

Delivers a new era in the Department of Birth, Death and Marriage – milestones in the lives of the main characters. But the subplots are less organized in this upside-down scenario. There’s a loose gay thread that’s never tied between butler Thomas Barrow and Dominic West’s flamboyant actor Guy Dexter. Condensed to brief, tense exchanges upon landing, the relationship is fearlessly unmistakable. While perhaps an attempt to convey suppressed frustrations, the question here is why only half-heartedly include a potentially juicy plot?

Perhaps this lameness is in keeping with the posh-soap plot currency of Downton’s golly-gosh family secrets and water-soaked scandals, which is a nod to his longtime fans as Jeeves as Wooster by producer Julian Fellowes. Served like a weak Alka-Seltzer on a silver platter. ,

The overall effect of this well-starched pantomime of Britishness is dizzying—it creates a weird sea sickness inspired by cake-colored period drama when they try to fully capitalize on their potential for quality kitsch. Instead, nostalgia eliminates the sentimentality, and ignore the camp that could make them so much fun.

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Ketya Cerny