The latest box office hit, Downton Abbey, starring Michelle Dockery and Hugh Bonneville, is a lavish period film set in the scenic English countryside in 1927 that might have made a terrific family movie if not for a homosexual subplot that many found offensive.
According to Movieguide, the movie picks up where the popular PBS TV series ended. The Crawley family of Downton Abbey are preparing for a royal visit from the King and Queen of England and the manor is abuzz with activity. A variety of subplots, which made the series so popular, makes the movie choppy but manages to keep the pace going so that the audience is enthralled throughout. The costuming and background reflects the sumptuous lifestyle of the 1920’s and only adds to the overall beauty of the film.
As Movieguide describes, the movie “maintains a strong moral worldview with emphasis on family loyalty, marriage reconciliation, sacrifice, and some positive Christian elements,” such as an emphasis on family loyalty and marital reconciliation. It also has strong Christian elements with characters who thank the Lord, who pray, and who extol sacrifice.
However, a subplot involving a homosexual butler as well as other immoral behavior such as lying, trickery, stealing, and blackmail, mar this otherwise family-friendly film.
“Most prominently, butler Thomas Barrow’s homosexuality is the subject of a side story that involves the discovery of a gay bar, a run-in with the police, and a romance that is made out to be no different from the endearing, male-female love interests that develop among other characters,” explains Sophia Buono for Angelus News.
“However historically accurate the forced secrecy and police actions might be, the story’s portrayal pushes the narrative that the homosexual lifestyle is normal, even admirable, and makes Barrow and his companions out to be victims in a cruel society that simply cannot understand their ways.”
The Catholic News Service (CNS) gave glowing reviews to the movie and it’s many plots, all of which are family friendly, “but this is somewhat offset by the sympathetic treatment of same-sex-attracted, and long tormented, Barrow’s search for love. Beyond implicitly deploring the harassment to which homosexuals were subjected at the time, the film has no particular ax to grind. Still, though secondary, this subplot makes director Michael Engler’s glossy costume drama strictly grown-up fare.”
The treatment of homosexuality, coupled with same-sex kissing scenes, caused CNS to give the rating an A-III – adults. Even though the Motion Picture Association of America gave the film a PG (parental guidance) rating, “some material may not be suitable for children.”
As Buono sums up, “If it weren’t for distasteful, agenda-driven elements like this one, Downton Abbey might have been worth a family trip to the movie theater. But those who wish for a more filtered version might be better off waiting until the streaming option is available and the fast-forward button is at hand.”
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