A Royal Night Out
On May 8th 1945, all of London celebrated that the war was finally over; it was Victory in Europe Day. The capital shook itself free from almost six weary years of war as the streets throbbed with people singing, cheering, laughing and crying. Amongst them wandered the current Queen, Princess Elizabeth, and her little sister Princess Margaret, as they mingled incognito with the wildly rejoicing Londoners. A Royal Night Out reimagines the documented episode of the two princesses’ shared revelry with the public, in recognition of the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day this year.
But in Julian Jarrold’s British comedy-drama, there is less revelry, and more mingling. A Royal Night Out is a tedious interpretation paired with a bad script. When Margaret (Bel Powley) instigates the evening’s exploits, “Lilibet” (Sarah Gadon) follows, but is one step behind. This cues a series of tracking shots of Gadon chasing Powley through the building until she eventually loses her. The film’s plot is essentially one sister looking for another. The locations change, but the structure stays the same: search, discover and lose. Even the romantic subplot between Elizabeth and former airman Jack (Jack Reynor) cannot deter the viewer from its one major flaw. The film desperately wants audiences to like the characters – to laugh and cry with them. Yet, the characters are horrifically unlikeable. Jack is abandons women if they don’t promise him something at the end of the night. Elizabeth is suffering because she just wants to be ordinary, while, her father (Rupert Everett) wistfully relates that he’s always wanted to go on a bus.
The only redeeming character of A Royal Night Out is Margaret; Powley plays her with a naïvety that is responsible for the film’s comedic moments. A royal being mistaken for a hooker by hookers in a knocking shop is bound to garner a few laughs. There is an authentic atmosphere that has been expertly recreated to makes viewers almost wish that they were there to partake in the festivities. But too many times, the film slips into clichés, as accents are exaggerated and sayings become hackneyed. The scenes of emotional reverence are parodic because of the hammy acting.
A Royal Night Out has been compared to Roman Holiday. However, this is an insult to the original 1953 classic, as Jarrold’s film is riddled with the banalities and stale platitudes that Wyler steers clear of.
A Royal Night Out is released nationwide on May 15th 2015.
Watch the trailer for A Royal Night Out here: