Downton Abbey, A New Era **
by Simon Curtis
British film, 2:06
Marriage, death, birth… The cycle of life continues within the Crawley family. The ancestral walls of Downton Abbey see, imperturbable, the years mark the faces and curve the silhouettes. Imperturbable, not quite. In the imposing residence, the roof also shows its venerable age and the basins bloom in the attic to prevent water from invading the noble floors. But the money is lacking and, persuaded by his daughter Mary, Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, agrees to host (in return for a large cheque) a film crew. With some of his family, however, he fled this barbaric invasion: heading for the French Riviera, where the Dowager Countess, Lady Violet, mysteriously inherited a villa which she in turn intends to bequeath to one of her daughters. -girls.
The charm of clichés
Straight out of the television series imagined by Julian Fellowes, masters and servants of Downton Abbey invite themselves a second time on the big screen. With more success than in the first opus released in 2019, thanks to a better-crafted scenario and lively dialogue.
Certainly clichés abound like cucumber sandwiches on the trays of a “hightea”: fundamental misunderstanding between English and French (“magnified” by the imposing butler Carson), stubborn prejudices against the cinematograph and the supposed vulgarity of its actors, last fires of an outdated aristocracy which surrenders with sad elegance. Just as silent films are being dethroned by talkies…
But above all, set in dream landscapes, polished sets and refined costumes, there is this gallery of delectable actors (to which is added a Nathalie Baye in unfortunately very minor mode…) as quick to make us smile with a tongue-in-cheek reply than quivering with emotion.
Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley) and Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley) illustrate in particular this inimitable “British touch”: a look, a pout, a silence are more eloquent than many words. As for Michelle Dockery, she gives the beautiful Mary, once so stiff, even harsh, an interrogative depth that softens, without dulling her, her strength of character.