With only days to go now, the first verdicts on the Downton Abbey movie are being published.
The embargo on reviews was lifted yesterday ahead of the movie’s release in the UK this Friday.
The film arrives in US cinemas on Friday 20th September and around the world over the coming months.
Here’s a spoiler-free roundup of what the critics have said:
“In two hours, the movie welcomes fans home and takes them on a journey that reminds them why Downton became a global phenomenon in the first place. While the final shot seems just that – final – Julian Fellowes won’t rule out a movie sequel, so perhaps one day the doors of Downton will open once more. For now, fans can enjoy this film for what it is, a cosy and nostalgic cinematic treat.” ★★★★ – Digital Spy
“With elegance and glittering production values, it offers the now-familiar fantasy of an orderly, graceful world, the kind that is especially soothing in our own chaotic social and political moment … The film is delightful fun, even though the plot is obvious almost to the point of stupidity, and there are few surprises for the well-known characters, some of whom are handed unnecessary subplots to give everyone some screen time.” ★★★ – BBC Culture
“Those who love the Crawleys will find things to love here, from Mary’s insouciance, unchanged by the years, to the pleasant coziness of moments in the village surrounding Downton Abbey. But for some viewers who watched the show with an increasing sense of its fundamental coolness towards the idea of progress, its creepy-Crawley sense that to hope for or work for a more equitable world was not to know one’s role, this journey to the past may end up feeling ultimately less nostalgic than backward-looking.” – Variety
“Everyone at Downton seem like basically nice people doing their best, and while the story they tell might seem like a series of unrelated and unimportant vignettes to newcomers, it has considerable charm despite — or perhaps because of — the low stakes … Gentle, unchallenging drama for people who already know they like it, this is a nostalgic and rosy depiction of an England that was, surely, never so innocent.” ★★★ – Empire
“The plot of the Downton Abbey movie is brilliant, not so much because it is surprising, but because it allows every member of the cast to do what we expect of them … The thrill of the film lies in seeing everyone again. At least for a couple of hours.” – Slate
“So this is fan service as painstaking as any Marvel installment, and you’re expected to bring your well-studied knowledge of deep bench characters and all your reserve emotional commitment with you. As a reward for those loyal fans, Downton Abbey offers an envelopment in gorgeous and exacting period detail.” – The Wrap
“Imelda Staunton joins Maggie Smith and co in this standalone film that feels like an intensely glucose Christmas special … There are some films that you really have to see on the big screen. Not this one, though. To get the full, authentic experience, you’ll need to see it on the small screen, on 27 December, with quart of eggnog inside you and enough Quality Street to trigger a diabetic coma. It is at all times ridiculous – but, I have to admit, quite enjoyable.” ★★★ – The Guardian
“Excitement levels at the big-screen spin-off of Downton Abbey – essentially a lavish two-hour cast reunion putting the best tea service out – are considerable, but they might need a little tempering … It’s a thoroughly tidy business, wrapping everything up in a bow for the built-in audience, and giving us lofty reassurances that Downton will stay put generations down the line.” ★★★ – The Telegraph
“Overall, it’s a rather uneventful affair, considering Downton Abbey is well-known for its forbidden romances, ghastly tragedies, and unearthed secrets.” ★★ – The Independent
“A lavish fairy tale fueled by nostalgia … It’s a return to form, and its all-encompassing storyline plays much like a shinier, more magnificent Christmas special.” – Indie Wire
“Overall, Downton Abbey is an exquisite return to the wonderfully familiar, while at the same time featuring a sharper wit and even more gorgeous scenery than ever seen in the canon before. Die-hard fans will love the chance to see how things are progressing, while newbies can easily see how this series found its audience in the first place.” ★★★★★ – Cinema Blend
Hollywood forecasters are expecting the movie to be a huge success at the box office, with plans for a sequel already being discussed.
Downton Abbey: The Complete Collection DVD box set is available on Amazon.