Director: Julian Jarrold
Starring: Sarah Gadon, Emily Watson, Rupert Everett, Jack Raynor, Bel Powley, Roger Allam
Written by: Trevor De Silva and Kevin Hook
Running Time: 97 mins
Release date: 15th May 2015
When you go to a film and the poster proudly announces that it is “inspired by true events”, you expect there to be an element of truth in some of the story, with the occasional slice of fiction to spice up the story. What you don’t expect to see is a film that is completely made up. A Royal Night Out is full of so many contrivances, you end up not really caring about anything that happens.
VE Day 1945 and the young Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret want to spend the night with the ordinary people in the street, joining in the celebrations. Eventually giving in, the King and Queen allow them out but only to the Ritz and with chaperones. Once there, the sisters manage to give their babysitters the slip, Margaret heading off to Trafalgar Square with dreams of dancing the Lindy Hop at the finest clubs in London, Elizabeth desperately trying to find her wayward sister. On her search, she meets Jack, an RAF pilot who hates the Royals. He could be the only person to help find Margaret.
What starts off as a tale of two teenagers, on the biggest night of their lives, wanting to enjoy it like everyone else, soon turns into an almost farcical, pantomime of a film, where every single word seems to ring false. We see Elizabeth literally falling off a bus in the arms of Jack. A scene where the future Queen, in the middle of a packed Trafalgar Square, missing her sister by inches because, and you can hear the audience shouting “She’s behind you!”
Yes, this film becomes laughably bad as each ridiculous event occurs. If this was a work of fiction, we’d probably go along with it but using real people and using the term “inspired” it becomes apparent that “inspired” really means: the characters are real, everything else isn’t.
And as each ludicrous set piece unfolds, you feel it’s almost insulting the Royals, even though it is achingly patriotic. Jack gets thrown out of a pub for insulting the King. People shout “God Save The King!” at every possible moment. Yet, making Elizabeth and, particularly Margaret, seem like upper-class twits, does feel rather two-faced.
What’s more, the script is awful. Not helped, I should imagine, by the fact that at the screening I attended, it had subtitles for the hard of hearing, so we not only got to hear the dreadful dialogue but we could read it too. The film is full of stereotypes, from the blubbering army folk to the good, ole Cockerneys! Margaret is made out to be a party-happy girl who loves a drink and a dance, while Elizabeth is bright and sensible, yet if she was that sensible, she would have stayed at home like her parents wanted her to.
The cast valiantly attack the script with aplomb but frankly they are all let down. Thankfully, Rupert Everett and Emily Watson are on hand to bring a sense of order in their scenes. Everett’s King worried about how he is perceived by the general public, while Watson’s Queen wants her daughters to understand that they are not like everyone else and that’s the way of the world. I would have rather sat through watching these two than the rest of this tripe.
A Royal Night Out will attract the older members of the audience but will be swindled, for this is not a good film. In fact, the only saving graces are Everett and Watson and the fact it’s short. Otherwise, these feet of mine would have taken me out after the first 30 minutes. Yes, it’s that terrible. This year’s Diana!