Movies and TV shows have done their best to humanise the British royal family. Often seen as a somewhat aloof and decadent slice of English nobility, recent works have deconstructed the myth. Films such as ‘The Queen’ have stripped away the distant veneer to reveal people with the same foibles as their subjects. Although a light drama, ‘A Royal Night Out’ sheds more light on a family continually keeping supermarket tabloids on shelves.
In 1945 after 6 years of a brutal and bloody conflict, World War 2 finally ends. Celebrating V.E. day, the British populace erupts in a sea of jubilation. Wanting to join the party are young Princesses Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and her sister Margaret (Bel Powley). Despite the stern ways of their parents, Queen Elizabeth (Emily Watson) and King George (Rupert Everett), the girls eagerly join the public celebrations. What follows is a right royal night of thrills no one will forget.
‘A Royal Night Out’ is an interesting slice of factual fiction. Consistently amusing, it explores how expected convention heavily weighed on the young Princesses’ minds. Elizabeth in particular discovers the attitudes the general public has towards her family. Unearthing a myriad of opinions, these help open further her initially narrow world-view. Contrasting a life of privilege against those she meets, the many societal aspects she encounters changes her.
These emotional strands become a strong cipher upon which the movie hangs. Mixing pathos with sparkling humour, Julian Jarrold’s direction successfully maintains both. Whilst occasionally predictable and a little over the top, the comedy works in contrasting the seriousness of an uncertain post-war future. The performers work well in conveying their character’s ideals with the cinematography expertly conjuring the many images of a country scarred by war.
Staunch royalists should find much to enjoy with ‘A Royal Night Out’. Although not a totally serious film, it may change some opinions on a family usually dubbed ‘The Firm’. With a new royal recently born it can be assured tabloid magazines and TV viewers will continue watching their lives for years to come.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 7
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.