A Royal Night Out (2015)
Director: Julian Jarrold
Cast: Sarah Gadon; Bel Powley; Emily Watson; Rupert Everett.
Plot: On V.E. Day in 1945, as peace extends across Europe, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret are allowed out to join the celebrations. It is a night full of excitement, danger and the first flutters of romance.
A Royal Night out, directed by Julian Jarrold (Brideshead Revisited, Becoming Jane) explores the wonders of V. E. Day and how it has become iconic as a night where anything could happen, even for the Princesses of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth and Margaret. This movie explores the maturity of two sisters whose lives are significantly different to those of most ordinary people and how one night can change their perspectives forever.
On V.E. Day, 1945, when Winston Churchill made his announcement to the millions of people residing in Britain that the war would officially be over on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11:11, everybody cheered and took to the streets to celebrate the end of the war. The royal Princesses, Elizabeth, also referred to as ‘Lizbeth’, and Margaret who refers to herself as ‘P2’, convince their parents that they should be allowed out to celebrate the victory in order to find out how the people really felt about King George’s speech. After tricking their chaperones and two soldiers from the Army, both daughters escape the confines of the Ritz. However, they are separated from one another, with Elizabeth chasing Margaret all around London in an attempt to be able to spend the night with her. Through her frantic searching, Elizabeth meets a young soldier named Jack (Jack Reynor) who reluctantly helps her search for her sister. By the end of the movie, they realise that they enjoyed one another’s company greatly, yet know that their relationship could never work. Once they depart, both Jack and Elizabeth leave with smiles on their faces, knowing that they had one truly great adventure with one another.
A Royal Night Out is a brilliant blend of comedy, drama and love. Although the story may seem cliché at first – one person is not who they say they are, two people who dislike one another grow affectionate due to their circumstances etc. – it really is not your typical romantic comedy or drama. The ending is not what you’d expect. There is no happily ever after nor a skipping off into the distance with the two main characters hand in hand. Instead, it tells an almost realistic story of an adventure that could happen anywhere, to anyone. Add to this a wonderful blend of music, both very much relating to the time in which the movie is set yet also emotive enough and moving enough for every scene of A Royal Night Out, and the movie becomes a legitimate look at the life of a cultural and historical icon as well as a time long-since glorified around the world, but in the UK particularly. This works towards making the picture particularly engrossing.
Elizabeth, played by Sarah Gordon, is first in line to the throne and therefore is required to be the ideal young woman – a role model for both her sister and the female population of the United Kingdom; someone that the public would happily support. Her sister, Margaret (Bel Powley) on the other hand, knows how little pressure is placed on her shoulders, regularly stating throughout the movie: “Oh it’s okay, nobody really cares about what I do”. Powley adds a certain sense of comedy to the film, due to her nonchalant attitude towards being a Princess, clear naivety and utter enjoyment of being able to live as a normal person for the first and only time in her life, even going as far to get utterly drunk (and being wheelbarrow-ed around London). The mixture of these two sisters, both of whom are so very different from one another, creates an interesting and lovable movie that can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter their age or nationality.
It’s great to watch a movie about such a historical event from a different perspective: a person of royalty as opposed to the more popular ‘joe public’ approach. Such individuals create different moments and see things in an alternative way to what we’re used to, making for interesting scenes throughout the movie due to their understanding of what life is like – Lizbeth doesn’t realise the importance of money, constantly making Jack pay for everything, even admitting that money isn’t an aspect that her family ever think about (obviously, being Royals and all). Although Jack pays for the taxi’s, drinks, bus fare and more, he does seem increasingly more reluctant as the night goes on, making the audience chuckle at Lizbeth’s naivety regarding cash, and pay thought towards her privilege and her position regarding the war.
Overall, this movie was enjoyable, but it did not excel in any way – it’s not mind blowing, but an enjoyable watch for a rainy day.