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Royal Night Out, A


Stars: Sarah Gadon, Bel Powley, Rupert Everett, Emily Watson, Jack Reynor, Roger Allam, Ruth Sheen, Jack Laskey, Jack Gordon

Director: Julian Jarrold

Fanciful, to say the least, this right royal mess imagines that the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret (Gadon, Powley) were, much to the disapproval of their mother (Watson) given the freedom of London to celebrate with their people on VE night 1945.

Well, they're actually only supposed to go to the Ritz, but the irrepressible Margaret, intent on doing the Lindy Hop, is soon off on the arm of naval officer whose intentions are entirely dishonorable.

Pursuing her errant sister, by bus and on foot, Elizabeth falls in with Jack (Reynor), an RAF corporal who's gone absent without leave, as the action moves from bars, through a brothel run by the reassuring tones of Allam, and on to Chelsea barracks.

The tone of the film is desperately uneven, with the officers delegated to chaperone the sisters (Laskey, Gordon) depicted as figures of farce as, to a degree, is Margaret. And, although the treatment is admittedly light, the story is so wildly improbable as to be uncomfortable to be with.

Gadon does bear a passing resemblance to the young Elizabeth and has a certain regal quality, but Powley is nothing like Margaret, even if the performance is quite fun. The estimable Watson somehow makes herself the embodiment of the Queen Mother - a contrast to a lot of ropy acting from the supporting cast. Roman Holiday it isn't.

David Quinlan

UK 2014. UK Distributor: LionsGate. Colour by Panalux.
97 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 09 May 2015