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downton abbey: a new era

starring: hugh bonneville, elizabeth mcgovern, michelle dockery, and maggie smith

 

REVIEWER: nick tonkin

The Crawley family goes on a grand journey to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the dowager countess's newly inherited villa.

Downton Abbey: A New Era is the newest installment in the venerable series, and sequel to 2019's Downton Abbey, this time directed by Simon Curtis and written by series creator Julian Fellowes. 

 

A New Era reunites the cast of the series, as they come to learn of the Dowager Countess’ newly inherited villa in the South of France and the journey there to meet the family of the mysterious benefactor. Joining the familiar cast are a host of new faces as the crew of a silent film production granted access to film in the house and grounds, much to the delight of the staff of the Downton estate.

 

A New Era is an undoubtedly endearing production, with wonderful set design and costumes, impeccable locations and some great new additions to the cast as members of the film production taking place at the estate. The charm of revisiting familiar characters is certainly the draw, though most of whom have had their conflicts and strife that punctuated the drama of the series largely litigated and overcome earlier in the series' run; so giving A New Era the feeling of being a pleasant victory lap, rather than a substantive contribution to the development of the characters that series viewers have spent so much time with. 

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as seeing things like Thomas Barrow regress back to his old ways, or the Dowager Countess and Lady Merton back at it again just for the sake of it, could ring hollow and overly melodramatic and detract from their progression observed through the series.

 

Downton Abbey: A New Era is a charming return to the grand estate and its residents, which also sets the stage for the future of the Crawley family in a world that would otherwise insist on changing around them.