A Royal Night Out (2015) – Cinderella-Esque Period Drama about Queen Elizabeth

December 9, 2015 17 Comments

A Royal Night Out (2015) Film Review

Once in a while there are films that tiptoe past our notice. It’s not too often that this happens to me with British films because I may a bit obsessive about learning about them. This was not one of those films. I ran across it quite by chance (I think the connection is its lead actress, Sarah Gadon). When I learned what A Royal Night Out was about, this became a must see.

Royal Night Out

As the film opens, the image is of a young Princess Elizabeth (played by Gadon). Standing at the window of Buckingham Palace, she observes the celebratory events of this May 1945 day, otherwise known as VE Day. For years, the royal family stands united at every appearance, and certainly for every one of their father’s speeches. But tonight Elizabeth and her sister Margaret (Bel Powley) want to spend a night among the people.

They wish to mingle with the crowd and experience life, an idea their mother (Emily Watson) irrefutably refuses but their father (Rupert Everett) gives in. With excitement, the girls dress up and head into the thrilling new world seeing it as they’ve never before experienced.

Royal Night Out
No matter how I try, I have doubts I can adequately express how delightful this film is. There is something unusually beautiful about it despite the fact that its balance tips to humor over drama. The opening frame of the film left me uncertain because it does’t jive with my idea of the film. Frivolity replaces the serious expression Elizabeth carries and yes, even some important morals slip into place with bittersweet results.
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Though many of its attributes recommend this film (a feat it easily masters without additional puffing), the cast is one of its most important. From veterans Emily Watson and Rupert Everett to Canadian actress Sarah Gadon, everyone is lovely. Sarah in particular is excellent. Her British accent is good, but more impressive, she plays the monarch with the kind of class and elegance we like to imagine the queen is made of. This is as much Elizabeth’s journey to accept and see her role as a gift over a burden as it is a kind of romantic-comedy.

Also a highlight is the script. The writing seems to put its best foot forward with the playful nature it threads throughout its 90-some minutes. One example involves Margaret and a wheelbarrow. Just trust me, it’s hilarious. The film can only end one way no matter its charming sense of romanticism (the romance is darling). To keep in line with history, it takes the straight and narrow over the bend in the road. Also to be praised is the atmosphere (which is all high energy, doesn’t lose sight of the characters). This is a great mixture of whimsy, romance and historical drama plus a good character piece.

When you watch the making-of commentary, you’ll learn no one knows what really happened on VE night 1945 aside from the fact that the princesses did go out. This means that much of what transpires is certainly a writer’s imagination though this doesn’t make the adventure less entertaining. On the contrary, I suspect the film’s imagination is what gives us a surprisingly deep picture of the princess Elizabeth. The cherry on top is we get another 40s period drama that should leave you with a smile.


Content: this film is PG13 and does contain one clothed sex scene which plays for laughs. There is also a few brothel scenes, and an implication a young woman is about to be raped after being drugged.

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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17 Comments

  • Meghan Gorecki December 9, 2015 at 3:26 PM

    Okay I need to see this. :) Looks so great!

    • Rissi December 10, 2015 at 4:16 AM

      It's absolutely darling, Meghan. Really, I didn't want it to end. :)

  • Ella December 9, 2015 at 8:27 PM

    Thanks for reviewing this, Rissi! This sounds really good!
    Adding to to my 'To-be-Watched' list:)

    • Rissi December 10, 2015 at 4:18 AM

      My pleasure, Ella. I was thrilled to review this one because it's really lovely. :)

      Hope you enjoy it when you have a chance to see it. :)

    • Ella December 10, 2015 at 10:27 PM

      Thanks :)

  • Becky Ritta December 9, 2015 at 9:22 PM

    I'd never heard of this film before, but it looks great! I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for it.

    • Rissi December 10, 2015 at 4:19 AM

      It's so much fun to discover new films, Becky; this one definitely snuck up on me as well. I hope if you have a chance to see it, you enjoy. :)

  • Jaime December 10, 2015 at 10:31 AM

    This looks like fun I love period movies.

    Btw, did you know that if you type in rissiwrites.com it leads to an error page? Just so you know. It's shorter than writing in the entire name with www. :)

    • Rissi December 14, 2015 at 3:26 AM

      It IS fun, Jaime! I hope if/when you see it, you enjoy. :)

      Thanks for the heads up on the URL. Yes, I did know that. I think in the transfer, that's how it was set up. I'll check and see if a change can be made.

  • Anonymous December 10, 2015 at 2:11 PM

    You watch some interesting films! I need to see this one! Thanks for the review.

    • Rissi December 14, 2015 at 3:31 AM

      I do like to search out some that aren't widely known – plus I am a period drama aficionado! :D

  • Bekah M. December 10, 2015 at 3:19 PM

    Such a wonderful review, Rissi! I only heard of this one last week when my sister said she wanted to watch it. Now after reading your take, I do too. Thanks so much for sharing! Will probably be watching it on the weekend! :)

    • Rissi December 14, 2015 at 3:32 AM

      Hi, Bekah. As always THANK YOU for reading and taking the time to comment. :)

      I sure hope you and your sis enjoyed this one if you saw it. I thought it was darling. But then I am a period drama nut, so… there is that. ;)

  • Heather Fineisen December 14, 2015 at 3:20 AM

    I love the British films. This looks right up my alley.

    • Rissi December 14, 2015 at 3:34 AM

      It's super cute, Heather. :)

  • The Artist Librarian December 17, 2015 at 9:00 PM

    I usually am more of a fan of historical fiction as in a story set in a certain time period rather than following "real life" historical figures, but this one sounds adorable. Crossing my fingers that my library has/will get a copy!

    • Rissi December 22, 2015 at 6:01 AM

      It IS adorable. I'll cross my fingers with you (I'm not sure when the DVD release comes for the U.S., but do know it only recently released in theaters). Let me know what you think when you have a chance to see it. :)

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