The perfectly titled A Royal Night Out is an enjoyable yarn about two princesses as they romp through London on the night of VE (Victory in Europe) Day. Sarah Gardon is Elizabeth, an improbably pretty teenage Queen Elizabeth, and Bel Poise is her younger sister Margaret, who wheedle their royal parents to permit them to spend the evening away from the Palace, as they learn that London is looking forward to a night of joyous celebration. Based on a true anecdote about the princesses being allowed out on VE Day, the film veers away from the anecdote when Princess Margaret steals away from her chaperones with Princess Elizabeth in pursuit. They fly headlong into a chaotic and raucous city, rife with patriotic fervor and debauchery and what follows is the story of Elizabeth, alongwith a cynical AWOL airman Jack (Jack Reynor) who comes to her rescue for a trifle and subsequently finds himself as her initially unwilling companion, chasing Margaret who has unknowingly befriended a sleazy armyman Captain Pryce (Jack Laskey) who’s only intent is to take advantage of her. Neither of the men knows who the ladies are and this makes for a series of amusing adventures and close calls.
This is a very agreeable period film; the costumes and locations, especially the depiction of a war-ravaged London, are excellent and do their job of making everything else easy and believable. The pacing varies beautifully with the progression of the story, from an ecstatic and crazed Trafalgar Square to the silent streets of Soho to a placid boat ride to Chelsea (where the audience is for the only time in the movie starkly reminded of the city’s suffering), and follows, in a manner, how Elizabeth’s feelings towards Jack evolve. The acting is brilliant all around but Sarah Gardon and Bel Poise carry the film from start to finish. Rupert Everett and Emily Watson as the King and the Queen are fantastic and it’s interesting to observe the dynamic of their relationship in the scenes they are together in.
The “romance”, if you will, between Elizabeth and Jack underpins the second half of the film and you find yourself rooting pointlessly for it. The conclusion is predictable but satisfying. The writers haven’t taken any unnecessary liberties through the film that could draw controversy so that almost no one can be offended. Usually this tactic is annoying at best and half-baked at worst, but it seems to fit right in with A Royal Night Out, which is a well-made and fun film.
Writer : Rabindra Dube for #JWDFilmReviews