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Posts Tagged ‘Hugh Bonneville’

“DOWNTON ABBEY” My rating: B+ 

122 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

Feature film spinoffs of successful TV series have an iffy track record (“Sex and the City,” “Entourage,” “Absolutely Fabulous”), but the folks at “Downton Abbey” have done it right.

The new “Downton Abbey” movie is an astonishingly effective piece of work, one that hits all the notes that made the TV show so successful and then adds a couple of new ones.

Will the movie make sense to anyone who wasn’t glued to PBS on Sunday nights?  Well, maybe, but the real pleasure here comes from continuing our relationships with characters we already know inside out.  It’s like a family reunion…only you actually like hanging with this family.

Writer Julian Fellowes, who created the series and scripted most of its episodes, provides a screenplay that gives almost every member of the huge cast at least one memorable moment and effortlessly balances multiple story threads.

Director Michael Engler deftly handles the pacing and the impressive technical production (he’s in charge of the actors, too but since most of these players have been doing their characters for the better part of a decade, how much coaching could they have required?).

The plot? Well, there are a dozen of them, but the overriding one has the King and Queen visiting Downton. It’s like when the FBI takes over a local murder investigation…Their Majesties’ arrogant retainers invade the Abbey, relegating the resident staff to observer status.  But not for long, thanks to machinations that come off as a more genteel iteration of “Revenge of the Nerds.”

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Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Armstrong

“VICEROY’S HOUSE” My rating: B 

106 minutes | No MPAA rating

Gurinder Chadha’s “Viceroy’s House” is more history lesson than viable drama. But it’s compelling history, told with insight, cinematic savvy and a sense of scale that would make David Lean proud.

The screenplay (by Chadha,  Paul Mayeda Berges and Moira Buffini) concentrates on the last days of British rule in India in 1948, and the efforts of the last Viceroy of that country, the famous Lord Louis Mountbatten, to juggle dozens of competing interests to ensure that the new Indian republic gets off to a good start.

As it turns out, this is a fool’s errand, thanks to the perfidy of Mr. Churchill’s government (represented here by actors like Michael Gambon and Simon Callow). which is pulling strings behind the scenes.

But Mountbatten, a supremely decent man as played by “Downton Abbey’s” Hugh Bonneville, is a hopeful, sincere and largely selfless warrior doing what he thinks will be best for millions of Indians.

The film follows two trajectories.  First there’s the arrival of Mountbatten and his Lady Edwina (Gillian Anderson) and his installation as Viceroy amid all the pomp and ceremony of a royal coronation. Unlike virtually all of the Viceroys who served in India over three centuries,  Mountbatten and his wife are concerned mostly with the common good.

While Lord Mountbatten spars and cajoles with the leaders of various factions — historic figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Muhammad Ali Jinnah — his wife turns to humanitarian concerns. Both work to eliminate the Brit racism that seeped through previous administrations. Both seriously try to understand the culture and ethos of the great continent which they are charged with giving away. (more…)

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