Downton Abbey film – a lavishly produced treat for the series many fans

Fans of Downton Abbey won’t be disappointed by this big screen opportunity to catch up with old friends. Gifted a bigger budget, Julian Fellowes’s drama about upstairs/downstairs has been turned from a show where thoughtful adults do and say grownup things into a lavishly produced costume drama in which well-dressed folk go to gown fittings, banquets and dances, flirt, chase and fall in love.

There’s a nod to criticism of the rich and the social system that enabled them, but this is a film about coaches, footmen and raised eyebrows. Star of the show as you might expect is Maggie Smith, though she has a worthy adversary in Imelda Staunton. Around them, all the usual players are present and correct planning and executing grand schemes, yet still finding time to rearrange the furniture, outside in the rain, at midnight, in preparation for the King.

In an age of superheroes, talking toys and fast cars, there’s something quietly noble about focusing on unremarkable people doing ordinary, non-lethal tasks with good humour and quiet resignation. Director Michael Engler, despite being an American, knows what his audience wants and gives it to them.

Downton Abbey (PG) will screen at 10:30am & 7:30pm Wednesday 4th March