A confection that delights fans and will charm those wanting a sweet slice of nostalgia, seen at London’s oldest cinema.
Making the very successful TV Series, ‘Downton Abbey,’ into a film was always going to be problematic. Most of the big dramatic storylines have been told, and we left the Abbey’s family, the Crawley’s, on the small screen, with the 1920’s well underway, and devoid of the sort of world crisis that would help any big story along. So, what was there left to warrant a big screen story?
Quite a lot as it turns out. Thanks to the able screenwriting talents of Julian Fellowes, and the wonderful characters which have become very polished and well known over the years, ‘Downton Abbey,’ the film, offers much to like. Seamless, realistic dialog, between well-rehearsed cast, gives the film a sense of almost being a snap-shot, or time capsule view on a world long gone. So even though we know that the characters are played by some of the UK’s finest actors, somehow, we believe that what we are seeing is real. This trick when played well by film makers is called ‘suspension of disbelief,’ and ‘Downton Abbey,’ has this. So even, if like this reviewer, you’ve not seen much of the TV series, or even if you’ve seen a lot, it doesn’t really matter, there is a sense of immersion into a bygone age which if one just ‘goes; with it, is pleasant and feels very real.
This great, authentically portrayed story world is helped by Julian Fellowes own connections and real knowledge of the era. This was learnt through his own family connections and history, and in this feature script, it has been meticulously honed. The film is also wonderfully brought to life by great costumes, production design, hair and make-up, seamless photography, and some lovely ensemble direction and choreography by Michael Engler. Sure, the film is lush, it is indulgent, and it could be 15 minutes shorter, but who cares? Strong narrative and dramatic structure it does not have, but the film is still good, which is actually quite a hard feat to pull off. However, the characterisation is so good that the viewer cannot but help get dragged into the upper-class soap opera that Downton is, and feel completely shamelessly, happy about all. So, if you like period escapism, sit back and enjoy!
This particular viewing of this very good period piece, was also helped by being screened in London’s oldest cinema, ‘The Regent Cinema.’ Opened in 1848, it was fully renovated in 2015. It has late Victorian mouldings and furnishings and the sort of old world feel that is ideal to see any period film in. However, the Regent is also home to many 21st century film festivals, British independent films, and screens a lot of retro classics too. It also screens block-busters, but like all the films it screens, there’s just one or two screenings, often at the end of a big run. This makes the Regent and ideal place to catch up on bigger films you might’ve missed out on when they first came out. ‘Downton Abbey,’ is one such example. Released in September, it has enjoyed a good run, but the Regent Cinema was still full of die-hard Downton fans who were clearly very happy for one more chance to see their favourite characters on the big screen.
For more info on what’s on at the Regent Cinema, got to www.regentcinema.com