On V.E. Day in 1945, as peace extends across Europe, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret are allowed out to join the celebrations. It is a night full of excitement, danger and the first flutters of romance.
After 5 minutes of ‘A Royal Night Out’ I was convinced I was going to hate the film, but thankfully it gets better immediately and grows into a really enjoyable piece of cinema. Based loosely on a story (true or not, who knows?!) of a young Queen Elizabeth and her sister Margaret venturing out of Buckingham Palace to enjoy the VE Day celebrations. The film works well because it’s superbly paced, has a frenetic rhythm and some great era appropriate music to compliment the action. In essence, the film is about two young girls getting their first taste of freedom, and there’s a sense of fun and flair in the performances and direction to give the film a light touch. The film doesn’t ignore the fact the two young girls happen to be princesses who have led sheltered lives to this point, and there’s plenty fish out of water style humour that works well in the film’s context.
Canadian actress Sarah Gadon stars as Elizabeth, and she shares a strong resemblance to the queen at that point in her life. She gets the meatier material alongside Jack Reynor, and both are pretty good, albeit the slower moments are amongst the least enjoyable of the film, with the film losing momentum when it stops to pause and think. Throughout, it works best when the pacing is manic and the direction focuses on the characters moving swiftly from location to location. The film is quintessentially British, with the comic sensibilities of a ‘Carry On’ film, and this particularly shows in some of the film’s funnier sequences focusing on the two soldiers who are supposed to be looking after the princesses. The performances are enjoyable across the board, with Rupert Everett and Emily Watson both terrific fun as the King and Queen.
‘A Royal Night Out’ was a lot more enjoyable than I expected, with a pretty funny script helping to balance the comedy well with a couple of more reflective moments on the war. One to take your gran too!
Directed By: Julian Jarrold
Starring: Sarah Gadon, Bel Powley, Jack Reynor, Emily Watson, Ruth Sheen, Roger Allam and Rupert Everett