Top critical review
Tired and on its last legs
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 June 2022
I know Downton has been a huge moneyspinner over the years, but I think this latest film was one too many. The characters have become caricatures of themselves, and the actors are going through the motions with little conviction and very wooden acting. Lady Mary is as expressionless as ever, and appears to have mislaid her racing driver husband, who doesn't appear at all. The egalitarian Crawleys , who have already welcomed their Fenian chauffeur into the family as husband to their youngest daughter, now deceased, plus an illegitimate child of their second eldest, Lady Edith, don't turn a hair when said ex-son-in-law now marries the illegitimate daughter, formerly posing as the lady's maid, of a wealthy neighbour. Now we are treated to an even more absurd plot in which the legitimacy of the Earl himself is called into question when his mama inherits a palatial villa in the South of France from a former admirer. In that family, one would have thought they would take yet another possible illegitimacy in their stride, or possibly, actually ask the Dowager for the truth of the matter, but no, that would be too easy. So off they go to the S.of France, via a CGI cross channel ferry and , supposedly, the Blue Train, but the budget clearly didn't run to a restored Pulllman car. In the S.of France, nothing much happens at all, but we meet a furious French widow and her son, who is only too delighted to hand over the villa, including the furnishings, and embrace his putative 'brother". Back at Downton, a silent film company are renting the place and providing much needed cash to repair the roof. Judging by the huge wedding cake style Cannes villa, just selling that would have more than recouped the cost, without filling up Downton with actors. That is of course the joke - Highclere Castle ( Downton) filled up with 21st cntury actors pretending to be 1920s aristocrats and servants appalled by the idea of having vulgar actors in their home, but secretly rather enjoying the whole thing. I wish I had enjoyed the film as much as the cast evidently enjoyed making it. But the saga is now tired, and on its last legs, like the Dowager Lady Crawley, rather than entering a new era. Maggie Smith, who was always the best thing about Downton, naturally gets the best line at the end.