REVIEW: “So Bad it’s Laughable” – Downton Abbey (2019)

Rating: 3 out of 3.

“It would have honestly been better had it returned as a two-part Christmas special on ITV” 

How does one even explain the Downton Abbey film? Well, a few words could be: inaccurate, cheesy and slightly painful. 

The film begins in 1927 as a continuation of where the 2015 Christmas special finale left off… it should have really been left in 2015. 

The film follows the Crawley family and their staff as they prepare for a visit from King George V and his wife Queen Mary of Teck. Meanwhile the Crawley’s butler Barrow goes on the experience of a lifetime as a gay man in 1920s England. 

Many were excited for this film – the writer of this review included – yet, unless you are a 60+ middle class British person (the target audience), you will find this film so bad it’s laughable. 

That isn’t to say that there aren’t good points to the film, in fact the plot isn’t half bad, however it was predictable. Most audience members will find themselves uncovering every plot twist about 10 minutes before they take place. 

The problem with Downton Abbey however is, much like the series and its theme, it’s very much stuck in the past. The show is very white, and very straight. Yes, they can tick the little diversity box for having a gay character, but Barrow’s storyline lacked detail. It’s all well and good featuring a gay character but he shouldn’t just be used as queer bait. 

Thomas Barrow (played by Robert James Collier)

Downton Abbey is also one of those shows which seems to not acknowledge the existence of other races in the 1920s. This can no longer be defended by claiming historical accuracy – it’s yet another example of how the film and television industry is racist when it comes to period dramas. An actor’s race should not matter if they can pull off a good performance. 

Downton Abbey stuck to what it knew best, on the one hand this is good because we got a half decent film out of it, on the other hand it created a laughable and somewhat cringy experience. It would have honestly been better had it returned as a two-part Christmas special on ITV. 

To summarise, Downton Abbey makes a return but it certainly is not a triumphant one. 

Directed: Michael Engler

Produced: Julian Fellowes, Gareth Neame and Liz Trubridge. 

Screenplay: Julian Fellowes 

Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton and Penelope Wilton 

Released: 13th September 2019