These days, anything with Maggie Smith is worth watching. If it is a film written, directed, and produced by Julian Fellowes, I am SO watching it. Yes, I am a Downton Abbey nut. It cannot be helped! (And I like it that way!) Oh, it also stars Hugh Bonneville and at least 2 other Downton Abbey cast members. Yes, this film was from 2009, before the awesomeness that is Downton Abbey began, but it is interesting that Julian apparently knew some of the folks he really wanted to work with. Anyway, I was excited to run across this little gem amidst Netflix. So, my wife and I were excited to give it a go.
“From Time to Time” is not Downton Abbey, but in a way there are strong elements of the mega-hit here at work in this film. A stately manor that is the centerpiece to the film sounds very familiar. Hugh Bonneville plays the head of the household, not unlike the Earl of Grantham he plays on Downton Abbey. However, the comparisons really stop there. The film is set in 1944 at the close of WWII in Europe. A young boy awaits news of his father’s return from a German POW camp at his grandmother’s estate in the country while his mother is off in London. The boy has not been to see his grandmother in many years, as there seems to have been a falling out between the boy’s father and his mother (the grandmother), played by Maggie Smith. In short, this is the story of a boy coming to learn about his ancestors and this lovely estate via his stay with his grandmother.
Of course, how the boy learns of such is really the interesting part of this film. “From Time to Time” is part ghost story and part time travel tale. I don’t want to spoil anything for you here, but if these kinds of tales might interest you, then I highly recommend taking an hour and 36 minutes to check this one out. It’s a great story, cleverly written, and some fine actors lead you through the tale. Unfortunately, the boy actor that plays the main character Tully is not so good. In fact, I didn’t like him at all. Bad acting and casting on someone’s part.
It’s not Shakespeare, but it is engaging enough to make an impression. Thus, I write this review. Julian Fellowes has a gift (or a knack at least) for providing us the spirit of turn-of-the-century England. There’s this battle between dated ideals and aristocratic dignity and a more modern age, one filled with change. I find it fascinating to watch differing perspectives from within the same culture at the same time period clash with each other. I can’t think of a time that was filled with more change on a social level than this time period and specifically the British culture.
So, if a period piece set in England that features a sort of ghost story interests you, this is a very interesting choice. Try not to expect a whole lot and you will find “From Time to Time” a pleasant surprise.
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.