A regal reception awaits fans of the award-winning TV period drama in its highly polished big-screen debut.
It plays to its established and traditional crowd-pleasing strengths of wonderful actors, majestic
locations and withering put-downs, and includes a series-worth of drama packed with romance, rivalry and a royal salute.
It impressively gathers the show’s extensive cast together again, with Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern reprising their roles as the Earl and Countess of Grantham.
They are overseeing Lady Mary as she organises the household ahead of the imminent arrival of King George V and Queen Mary – a visit which will have long-lasting repercussions for the household.
The venerable Carson comes out of retirement to lock horns with David Haig’s thunderous royal butler, while Lesley Nicol’s cook Mrs Patmore has to contend with the King’s rude French chef.
Meanwhile, upstairs, newcomers Imelda Staunton and Tuppence Middleton – as Lady Bagshaw and her maid – bring plenty of baggage with them, both physical and emotional.
Maggie Smith makes an emotional return as the indomitable Dowager Countess to continue her sparring with Penelope Wilton’s Baroness, the latter being such a skilful actress she doesn’t always need dialogue to compete for the last word.
Director Michael Engler moves the camera around with a graceful fluidity to show the family residence off to its most majestic advantage, with Highclere Castle doing justice to the big screen, or possibly vice versa.
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