A Royal Night Out review: Sarah Gadon shines as a young Elizabeth II

A Royal Night Out

Vincent Ralph reviews a new film showing us another side to the V.E. Day celebrations.

A Royal Night Out tells the fictional, enjoyably ridiculous story of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret as they spend the night (and much of the following morning) celebrating V.E. Day with their loyal subjects in 1945 London.

Taking a snippet of unconfirmed history – anecdotes suggest the young royals were indeed allowed to join the party – writers Trevor De Silva and Kevin Hood and director Julian Jarrold thrust the young duo into increasingly comedic and unlikely set-ups that work because neither the film nor its stars take things too seriously.

The standout turn comes from Sarah Gadon as a young Elizabeth, with Bel Powley’s Margaret the ditzy partner-in-crime whose childlike excitement prompts the initial shindig before quickly leading them further from their comfort zone – and the chaperones their parents have lumbered them with.

Said parents are of course King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (played by Rupert Everett and Emily Watson) and in essence they are no different from every other mother and father who has ever stayed up late awaiting the return of their children – except of course that these are future heirs to the throne.

The twist comes when Elizabeth meets jaded airman Jack (played by Jack Reynor) because where other films would explore the blossoming love story, Jarrold’s feature acknowledges the very fact that these two characters can never be more than mismatched friends…and only for a few hours at that.

It is an interesting sub-plot, and one which is handled well, although some viewers may want to see more of their relationship which – due to the subject matter (no matter how loosely based on fact) – is pretty much impossible.

The film starts quickly and never lets up, a royal romp perfect for Sunday afternoon viewing, with a game cast led by the brilliant Gadon, and while it was not made to be taken too seriously that is not a bad thing.

A Royal Night Out knows exactly what it is – 97 minutes of feel-good moments and light comedy that reminds us of a significant moment in history, even if on this occasion it is sprinkled with some fictional extras.

A Royal Night Out is released on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 7 September 2015.