A Royal Night Out – Movie Review by Frank L.
Directed by Julian Jarrold
Writers: Trevor De Silva, Kevin Hood
Stars: Sarah Gadon, Rupert Everett, Emily Watson
On the night of 7/8 May 1945, the second world war in Europe came to an end with the signing of Germany’s unconditional surrender. After almost six years of bombings, air raids, and thousands of military and civilian casualties the war was finally over. Britain partied. In particular London partied. The personification of Britain throughout the war had been the King and his family which included the two young Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret. Against all protocol on VE night they were allowed, incognito, to join the throngs celebrating the victory in the streets of London. This is a fictional version of what high jinks they might have encountered.
Sarah Gadon as Princess Elizabeth and Bel Powley as Princess Margaret make good likenesses of the two princesses. They initially move carefully escorted by suitable officers but things go awry and they find themselves far from the comparatively restrained celebrations taking place in the Ritz. They are out in the clamour of the crowds in Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square. Close by lurks Soho. Where all sorts of lascivious dangers may lurk. Luckily for them in turn they stumble upon Jack, a tommy in uniform. Interestingly he has no surname. He is just “Jack”. A fine manifestation of the British class system at work. He, played by Jack Reynor, is the star of the show. There is a series of escapades and high jinks. But with dawn and breakfast, the British class system returns to its calm equilibrium. Jack and the Princesses will lead very different lives in the ensuing peace.
Of the upstairs/downstairs genre this film is a solid enough example. Everything is somewhat magnified to make the social divides more sharp. Undoubtedly the seventy years which succeeded VE Day has seen a reduction in those divides but that this genre remains so popular proves the enduring power of these social divides, particularly in Britain. As royalty and its doings remain a subject of some considerable interest, just think about Hello magazine, to a very large number of people this film takes its place as a dutiful courtier.