DOWNTON ABBEY (PG)
Ardent fans can unstiffen their upper lips with relief because the glassware gleams and the bone china is lustrous in a crowd-pleasing frippery of froth, which assiduously ties up loose narrative threads and unpicks a few new ones from the award-winning TV series created by Julian Fellowes.
Cinematographer Ben Smithard captures the Jacobethan splendour of Highclere Castle, the real-life Downton Abbey, in every conceivable flattering light while Fellowes's script serves up bite-size morsels of intrigue and romance to generate a steady trickle of conflicts, resolutions and cliffhangers. Michael Engler's film is comfortingly and disappointingly familiar, welcoming back most of the main cast plus Scottish composer John Lunn to underscore every twitch of a hemline with swooning orchestrations.
The narrative structure is three back-to-back TV episodes, minus the anachronistic adverts, and reserves the emotional meat for a poignant final 20 minutes that might require a dainty dabbing of eyes.
Loosely based on a true story, Hustlers follows a group of New York City strippers who resort to ripping off their clients after falling on hard times in the wake of the 2008 financial crash.
The film boasts a star-studded cast, with Crazy Rich Asians actress Constance Wu playing struggling single mother Dorothy, who strips under the name Destiny.
Jennifer Lopez steals the show as veteran dancer Ramona Vega, who takes Destiny under her wing and eventually lures her into a life of crime.
Former child star Keke Palmer and Riverdale's Lili Reinhart take supporting roles while Cardi B's much-publicised involvement is in fact an all-too-brief cameo, though a typically colourful one.
Director Lorene Scafaria also wrote the script and has crafted a fine film, expertly combining humour and pathos. We know these women are doing bad things, but they're not bad women.
Rating: Four stars