A Royal Night Out is British, royalist fanfare at its most trifling and frivolous, in large part undeniably enjoyable.
The title ‘A Royal Affair’ being taken, A Royal Night Out is the latest in a long line of films playing on affection and widespread curiosity in the hidden lives of royalty, in particular that of our 60 years-strong Monarch Queen Elizabeth II.
The lady at the ticketing counter commented that this film had been mistakenly entered into her system as “A Girl’s Night Out.” Not an inaccurate description, this is both the story of two young women being allowed out of the house to party for the first time by their parents, who happen to be the King and Queen (a dapper Rupert Everett and Emily Watson), and a semi-fictional account of Princesses Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and Margaret (Bel Powley) on their night out in 1945 when the war came to an end.
Going incognito, Elizabeth chases Margaret throughout the city, pursued by two quintessentially British officers who may as well be called Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. Displaying at times a cartoonish, manic exuberance usually reserved for adventures in Wonderland, the characters run around and after each other on silly, innocently fun escapades – knocking over piles of champagne flutes, dancing in the Trafalgar fountain and getting into all sorts of compromising positions.
For a blonde Canadian, Gadon is well-cast as the near spitting-image of a young Queen Elizabeth, who inexplicably chooses to follow around grumpy soldier Jack (Jack Reynor) throughout the evening, a wholly uncharismatic serviceman whose only distinguishing features appear to be not sharing the same outward post-war enthusiasm of his peers or being entirely thrilled to hear the King’s evening speech. Together, they tumble down the ever-jaunty rabbit-hole that is immediate post-war London, Elizabeth reveling and attempting to be “just ordinary on the most extraordinary night of my life.”
This is British, royalist fanfare at its most trifling and frivolous, in large part undeniably enjoyable. Over-extended at two hours, A Royal Night Out is just that if you’re keen on a bit of fun, a debutante comedy-drama and a side of the reigning Monarch that won’t be commemorated on a stamp.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars