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.
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.
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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.
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.