Early on in this upstairs-downstairs story built around the King and Queen of England’s overnight visit to the titular country estate, a kitchen girl tells a footman to get the soufflés upstairs before they collapse. A soufflé is a light and airy confection of unvaryingly smooth consistency, and so is director Michael Engler’s movie. A bossy butler, a would-be assassin, a contested inheritance, a suspected traitor, a jealous lover, a snooty chef, a blackmailed thief, a persecuted homosexual, a swooning royalist, a dying soul, a slighted staff, a neglected mother-to-be, an exhausted aristocrat, a secret child, a failing marriage, an ambitious servant, and on and on — everything whipped into a perfect, bland uniformity. Nothing matters more than anything else, which is fine, you see, because it’s all just to serve the overarching, ostensibly palatable point: time is marching on, the world as these old-fashioned, class-bound people know it (and made it) is ending, and isn’t that just fine? Well, maybe not just yet — that would call for a reckoning and maybe even some drama — but the writing is on the wall, so let’s keep on dancing as the soundtrack swells over the onscreen orchestra and the story presses on past an ideal ending to something far more prosaic. But oh, Dame Maggie Smith’s costumes! (2019) — Matthew Lickona
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