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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Themes of teamwork, curiosity, and gratitude are clear in how the characters act, both downstairs and upstairs. Caring about other people is as important as caring about property and reputation. Barrow's storyline encourages people to not deny their true selves.
Positive Role Models
The characters have all grown since the TV series; no one -- not even the Countess -- is a straight-up snob or cares only about appearances. They may have wealth and privilege, but the Crawleys are also caring, compassionate employers who love one another fiercely. Staff members are ambitious, innovative, and loyal. Everyone has flaws, but they're quick to forgive, and they genuinely enjoy one another's company and friendship. Even the sisters, who actively disliked each other as young women, are now close confidants. The Dowager Countess in particular is an intelligent and wise matriarch who's willing to change with the times (well, a little).
Positive gender representation for the time period: Women lead the family's business affairs, work outside the home, and make important decisions, all unusual for aristocratic women in the late 1920s. But aside from class differences between upstairs and downstairs residents, not much diversity. Everyone is White except for a brief scene in which a Black musical act performs at a party. Two gay characters feel that they must be discreet about their attraction and future together.
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Violence & Scariness
A character purposely breaks a vase in a fit of rage and frustration.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few different married couples kiss passionately. A married character gets to know/flirts with a single character but later declines a kiss, even though they admit it was "difficult" to say no. Characters discuss whether a married couple will want company on their honeymoon. A character admits that he misses being in a relationship. Two people declare their love for each other and then kiss. An actress crudely remarks that most men want to "give it" to her.
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"Bloody hell," "hell," "bastard." "Oh God" as an exclamation.
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Products & Purchases
Louis Vuitton luggage. References to Hollywood actors and movies of the Silent Age.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink wine, champagne, and cocktails at nearly every dinner, as well as parties. Two characters sneak liquor into a dinner scene in the movie-within-a-movie.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Downton Abbey: A New Era is the sequel to 2019's Downton Abbey, itself a spin-off of the popular English TV series. Set in 1928 at the end of the Roaring Twenties, it follows both Lady Mary's (Michelle Dockery) decision to allow a silent film to be shot at Downton and the family's expedition to the French Riviera to visit a villa that Dowager Countess Violet (Maggie Smith) unexpectedly inherits. This film is slightly milder and less violent than the series and the previous movie, but it still deals with mature themes, including the challenges of being gay in the early 20th century, wondering about legitimacy, contemplating cheating on a partner, and dealing with sickness and aging. Language is limited to "bloody," "hell," and "bastard," and the romance is mostly discreet flirting and married couples kissing passionately. Adults drink nightly at meals and parties (wine, champagne, cocktails). Positive messages include the value of compassion and teamwork, evident in the fact that the family and staff are closer than ever, without jealousy or strife. This is a fitting, heartwarming finale to the upstairs/downstairs Downton saga. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a bittersweet finale fitting of the aristocratic and ever evolving Downton clan, thanks to the always charming cast, who've now played these roles for more than a decade. After so much past drama and scandal, the family and staff enjoy a mostly low-stakes story in A New Era as Lady Mary seeks to ease the financial burdens of the Abbey's upkeep and the rest of the family tries to figure out whether Violet had an affair with the French marquis. The Hollywood movie crew is fun to watch, particularly as Jack grows fond of and dependent on Mary, who's thriving in her role as Downton's ultimate decision maker. Age has thawed Lady Mary's frostiness; she's more accessible now that she gets along with Edith and misses her adventure-seeking husband, Henry (Matthew Goode), who doesn't appear in this film. Mary's banter with Jack and willingness to learn about the film business is refreshing, even if a tad forward. The downstairs staff all get mini subplots, with the exception of Anna and Bates, who've already been through so much trauma that it's actually a blessing. Even Mr. Molesley (Kevin Doyle) gets to grow professionally (he becomes an impromptu script doctor) and personally (he and Miss Baxter continue to have feelings for each other).
But this isn't a movie you watch for the plot developments or for the new characters, no matter how entertaining it is to watch West act like a swashbuckling silent film heartthrob. This installment, like the one before, is best for existing Downton fans who don't need a refresher on who's who. Anna Robbins' period costume work once again impresses (even the swimsuits look spectacular), as does the production design by Donal Woods. The cinematography captures the two elegantly appointed aristocratic estates, lush landscapes, and the expressive close-up shots of characters in private conversation. As for the movie's grand dame -- Smith is nearing 90, so it's quite lovely for this seemingly final Downton movie to shine a special light on the opinionated, self-assured dowager countess. Smith has elevated her character far beyond being an uncompromising snob; she became Isobel's dear friend and Tom's champion, proving that even the most unlikely candidates can sometimes change with the times. With everyone upstairs and down settled, all the stories feel told. And considering that the real world gets pretty grim starting in 1929 (Black Monday, the Great Depression, the rise of fascism, World War II), 1928 feels like a perfect year to end this beloved series.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.