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Film Review: A Royal Night Out


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New British comedy-drama A Royal Night Out is a fun, heart-warming, must-see film for spring.

The film, set in London on VE Day in 1945, begins with the young princesses, Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) and Margaret (Bel Powley), struggling to persuade their parents to give them more freedom and let them go out for the night to celebrate the VE Day celebrations outside of Buckingham Palace’s walls. The pair go out incognito (or as incognito as you can in posh dresses, with military guards escorting you) to a club where they are expecting to have a wild, independent night out, without the pressures of being Royals. However, their parents, King George VI (Rupert Everett) and Queen Elizabeth (Emily Watson), have other things planned for them. After spontaneously dodging their guards, the girls are off; free to join the night-time celebrations on the streets of London... But this freedom brings an unexpected turn of events.

A Royal Night Out is the perfect film to watch if you’re not after something too deep - It’s uncomplicated in plot and has characters based on real people that you are bound to know at least something about. Other than teaching you a bit of historical information that you may, or may not, have known before watching it, it doesn’t present you with any new ideas or concepts, so no deep-thinking is required, making it a perfect watch for a chilled Sunday afternoon or a tired week-night. It’s just a lovely, funny, uncomplicated story about celebration and family.

The events of the film, when the girls are lost and unchaperoned, are sometimes predictable, such as their unwillingly gaining helpful male companions to help them navigate the unfamiliar night-time scenes and one of them always, frustratingly, being one step behind the other so that they always accidentally just miss each other. Their being separated near the beginning of the night was bound to happen, and their eventual reunion at the end was also 99% going to happen. However, the events in-between the predictable initial losing, and eventual finding, of one another, are funny none-the-less.

Up-and-coming Canadian actress Sarah Gadon, best-known for her roles in Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis and A Dangerous Method, does a fantastic job in her leading role as the young princess Elizabeth. Her immaculate, convincing, British accent is clearly the result of lots of preparation, research and dialect training. She portrays the young Princess Elizabeth as often naive, yet assertive, sensible and determined in her search for her sister. Though Elizabeth is physically lost, within the dark, crowded streets of London, she never loses herself in the celebrations nor loses sight of her main goal.

Bel Powley, who plays her sister Princess Margaret, has a great on-screen connection and friendship with Sarah, making them the perfect choice to play the young sisters. This chemistry is also shared in real-life, and Sarah’s role in the film as the caring, worried older sister, is to some extent, a part of their off-screen friendship too, as Sarah feels protective of Bel in real-life (something she also mentions in my interview with her.)

British actress Bel Powley, best known for starring in drama The Diary of a Teenage Girl, plays a brilliantly funny, energetic and enchanting young Princess Margaret. Her careful over-pronunciation and impeccable accent, cheeky remarks and seemingly-continuous dancing show off her great on-screen presence. Her performance is brilliant, as, whenever she’s onscreen you cannot help but be drawn to watching her, her presence just subconsciously demands your attention. Her bolder character also works well in contrast to Sarah’s quieter, more reserved portrayal of Elizabeth.

Academy Award nominee Emily Watson and Golden Globe nominated actor Rupert Everett make a fantastically funny duo as Queen Elizabeth and King George VI. Watson’s stern, sensible portrayal of the Queen mother contrasts brilliantly with Everett’s kindly, humorous portrayal of King George VI; a role that must be challenging for an actor to take on for fear of comparisons with Colin Firth’s recent Academy Award-winning portrayal in The King’s Speech. However, Everett does the role justice and gives a praise-worthy performance.

Overall A Royal Night Out is a charming, funny, heart-warming comedy-drama, with energetic characters, great acting; especially from some up-and-coming actors such as Bel Powley, Sarah Gadon and Jack Reynor, and a simplistic yet enjoyable story-line.

A Royal Night Out is released in UK cinemas on 15th May. 

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