I have Her Majesty The Queen on my mind all weekend, so of course, all my viewings were inspired by her passing last Thursday. This one was already on my to-watch list on Amazon Prime so it’s the perfect time to see this fantasy drama, imagining the events when Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were allowed a night out on V.E. (Victory in Europe) Day in 1945.
The movie opens with black and white footage of VE Day when peace is declared across Europe. Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) was just 19 years old at this time, though she had already served as a truck mechanic and driver at a women’s branch of the British Army. As she and her then 14-year-old sister Margaret (Bel Powley) watched a televised clip of Churchill giving his speech and saw people all over London jubilantly celebrating the end of WWII, they too want to be a part of the festivities. Somehow Elizabeth was able to convince her father, King George VI (Rupert Everett) to allow them a night out, saying she’d give a report on the people about his midnight speech. So despite their mother Queen Elizabeth’s (Emily Watson) reluctance, off they go in incognito mode.
Both girls are chaperoned by a pair of army officers who are given an order to bring them back by 1 a.m. Their escorts take them to a party full of noble people instead of ordinary folks that they want to meet, so it’s not exactly what the girls have in mind for the night. The notoriously rebellious Margaret is the first to slip away, and Elizabeth soon follows. The movie plays up the two very distinct personalities of the two princesses. Elizabeth is more mature for her age and even as a teenager, she’s the dutiful and responsible sort. The much more playful Margaret is all about having a good time and she’s immediately whisked away by a naval officer who introduces the young teen to a world of nightclubs, drinking, and gambling.
Their adventure takes them on separate buses, and Elizabeth tries to do her best to catch up to her younger sister the entire night. There’s a shade of Roman Holiday here in that it involves a princess away from her comfort zone and befriending a commoner who has no idea who she is. Jack (Jack Reynor) was on the same bus as Elizabeth and she later learns he’s a member of the airforce who’s gone AWOL. As fate would have it, the two end up spending the entire night together as they team up to find Margaret all the way to early morning.
It wouldn’t be a spoiler to say that the events depicted here are a work of fiction. In reality, the princesses only went out from 10pm and came back to Buckingham Palace at 1 a.m. Director Julian Jarrold (Becoming Jane, Brideshead Revisited) crafted quite a mirthful and fun experience of this fantasy adventure around iconic locations in London, including Trafalgar Square where the actual VE night took place 69 years prior. Though it’s not a relatively small-budgeted movie, the production values look more expensive than it looks, featuring gorgeous cinematography by Christophe Beaucarne.
The tone between the two princesses’ adventures feels decidedly different. Margaret’s shenanigans are more comedic and perhaps too over the top at times. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s scenes are more serious and at times hint at a possible romance between her and Jack. I actually like the pairing of these two and their scenes could work nicely as a lovely rom-com. Gadon is terrific and has a mesmerizing quality as Elizabeth, she captures the future queen’s calm countenance and kind spirit. There’s a scene where Elizabeth visits Jack’s mother in a more deprived borough of the city, showing her down-to-earth quality and her ability to relate to people outside of her social class and status.
Overall, it’s a charming and frothy diversion from the somber reality of the Queen’s passing. It’s not meant to be an emotional depiction like The Queen or even The Crown series, nonetheless, it’s a perfectly enjoyable piece of entertainment inspired by historical events.
Have you seen A ROYAL NIGHT OUT? I’d love to hear what you think!
15 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: A Royal Night Out (2015)”
I’ve seen this and I liked it. I was really surprised to find that it’s based on a true event, I would not have thought their parents would let these two girls out by themselves! But I am glad they did. Like you said, I think the way Elizabeth is portrayed is somewhat accurate, in that they both would have known she would be the responsible one.
HM The Queen’s passing upset me more than I thought it would, what a trouper she was.
Hey Paula, glad you like this one! I was surprised too that the princesses were allowed to go out incognito. Elizabeth already served in the war, which was surprising to me as well. Hard to imagine that just 7 years later Elizabeth became Queen!
Yeah, I still think about her passing constantly and how huge of a shift it would be, not just for England but the world.
She was so young! Yes it is a huge change. I’m not used to it and I don’t know when I will be.
Me neither! That’s why I decided to watch this movie this past weekend and I also watched a documentary on the Queen. I’m not exactly a Royalist but somehow her death affected me more than I thought.
*meant to say, I think the way Elizabeth is portrayed is *probably* somewhat accurate 👍
This has been in my watchlist for years as I’m still unsure about seeing this though I am a fan of both Sarah Gadon and Bel Powley.
I think it’s entertaining enough regardless how you feel about the royal family. Both Gadon and Powley are terrific here.
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Saw this several years ago and really liked it, it’s a fun, surprising, royal romp!
Hey Becky!! Somehow I missed your comment. Glad you have seen this one, I just had to watch it after the Queen passed. I’m still quite affected by it somehow.
Hey Ruth, glad you found it and liked it! I forgot about it until I read your review, which made me remember it and gave me a big grin because it was such unexpected fun 😉
Yeah it was! I really like Sarah Gadon as Princess Elizabeth and the rom-com-like bits with Jack Reynor is pretty charming. I actually met him at a press event for a Transformers movie (imagine that!), his Irish accent is adorable!
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