Downton Abbey: A New Era
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France and Hollywood vie against the titular country estate for our attentions in this sequel to the spin-off from the much-loved TV series.
Violet Crawley, Lady Grantham (Maggie Smith), discovers she has inherited a beautiful villa in the south of France from a former lover and – of course! – French nobleman. But his widow (Nathalie Baye) is contesting the dead man’s will. Robert (Hugh Bonneville), his wife Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), granddaughter Edith (Laura Carmichael) and a handful of others are despatched by the ageing dowager to sunnier French climes to sort matters out. That leaves Downton Abbey in the hands of Mary (Michelle Dockery), who is charged with overseeing a film production taking place on the estate. Subterfuge is the order of the day; just as Mary is being gently courted by the film’s suave director (Hugh Dancy), Robert contends with the possibility that he may have a different father. Could it be true? More to the point, what will the staff think?
Director Simon Curtis and creator-writer Julian Fellowes offer up more than enough sunlight and sparkle, not to mention Hollywood glitter and French sophistication, for one film. This sequel may bring the Downton saga to an end, but it does so in a way that should please its vast legion of fans.