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02nd May 2022

Review: The new Downton film is comfort viewing at its finest

“It’s like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes.”

Downton Abbey: A New Era is the latest cinematic instalment of Julian Fellowes’ beloved period drama and if you’re a fan of the original series, have no fear, it won’t let you down.

With the likes of Bridgerton having a vice-like grip on regency-core, it was a breath of fresh air to revisit one of our favourite period drama families of the last fifteen years.

We join the Crawley family nine months after the original movie; Lady Mary is settling into a matriarchal role, the roof is leaking, and the roaring 20’s are coming to a crashing end.

Despite the leaky roof, there’s no denying the crowd-pleasing nature of this film. There’s a contentment that emanates throughout but thankfully, it’s not without its twists.

With a Hollywood invasion, elegant trips to the South of France, paternity issues and a funeral (no spoilers, we promise) there’s a strong pace that keeps the audience hooked til the very end.

Hugh Bonneville, Maggie Smith, Michelle Dockery and Allen Leech all make their return alongside some new faces in the form of the Hollywood crew, who arrive at Downton to shoot a film.

Dominic West and Laura Haddock shine as Guy Dexter and Myrna Dalgleish, the lead actors in the film-within-a-film, who carry enough emotional and physical baggage to keep the entire downstairs busy.

Although this plot twist could have raised eyebrows, it actually brings unexpected comedy and a modernity to the stately home that we haven’t seen before. Particularly when we see the utter disgust from the Dowager Countess, played to perfection (as always) by Maggie Smith, who effortlessly surmises that she’d rather make her living “down a mine” than be an actor.


We were lucky enough to sit down with Irish actor Allen Leech recently, he explained what it felt like to revisit the character of Tom Branson, a role he originated in 2010:

“It’s always a treat. We keep saying goodbye to it and I thought it was really finished this time, but it’s a delight. It’s like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes. You know this character so well the minute you see his name and I was delighted to see his name so early on when I read the script this time. It was a treat to get back together with this cast as well.”


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Fans will be happy to hear that Tom finds his equal in Lucy, something Allen says was a joy to portray:

“It felt like the completion of his journey… in Lucy he’s found his equal, she was born out of this social structure that they both find themselves that they never wanted to exist within. I thought it was important for Tom to find someone who wasn’t in the aristocracy and Lucy is the perfect example… I really was so happy for him.”

Is it worth the watch?

We’ve said before that period dramas are the on-screen equivalent of a hot water bottle and a cup of tea. We’re happy to report that Downton Abbey: A New Era, lives up to that description.

Give it a watch this week if you want to feel warm and fuzzy inside, but don’t forget the tissues!

Catch Downton Abbey: A New Era in Irish cinemas now.