Queen and Country – Movie Review by C.K. MacNamara
Director/Writer: John Boorman
Starring: Callum Turner, Caleb Landry, Pat Shortt, Brían F O’Byrne, David Thewlis, Tamsin Egerton
Returning 27 years after his critically acclaimed but mildly received Hope and Glory, John Boorman’s sequel Queen and Country shifts from the bombed out wreckage of London’s post-war suburbs to the outset of the Korean War. We join our protagonist Bill Rowan as he enters his training in a military camp for misfit conscripts, along the way teaming up with the psychotic jester Percy and the cowardly shyster Redmond.
Reminiscent of Blackadder, the characters themselves are the centre piece of the narrative, with the threat of impending deployment to Korea acting as a backdrop for the characters to bounce off each other. The concept of a misfit training facility is fertile comedy soil, and the subtle hilarity of Boorman’s genre spanning experienced hand is on full display.
Steering clear of the frontlines of stereotypical military flicks, we meet the delinquents, drop outs and backroom shysters of the army, as they battle the perils of typewriting classes and jam soaked cigarettes. Callum Turner and Caleb Landry take to their roles as the funny/serious duo of Bill and Percy with relish, and are backed up by a plethora of stellar performances by Brían F O’Byrne, David Thewlis, and Pat Shortt.
Everyone has a defect of some kind, be it a lack of morality, PTSD induced madness, or being Pat Shortt.
Boorman’s takes an intimate glee in flexing his film buff credentials, as characters casually debate the multiple perspectives of Rashomon, and comment over Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. Whilst this can be overbearing at times the overall tone of Queen and County is one of modest and deeply personal investment, a simple but elegant second instalment to Boorman’s cinematic autobiography.