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Queen & Country (AF)


Stars: Callum Turner, Caleb Landry Jones, David Thewlis, Richard E Grant, Tamsin Egerton, Vanessa Kirby, David Hayman, Sinead Cusack, Pat Shortt

Director: John Boorman

It’s taken 28 years for John Boorman to make a sequel to his 1987 classic Hope and Glory.

Happily, unlike so many sequels, this charming, funny and, appropriately vinegary in all the right places, wise and witty rites-of-passage 1950s set story is definitely well worth having waited for.

Writer-director Boorman sets the tone right from the start when, in 1943, nine-year-old Bill Rohan welcomes the Nazi bomb that has destroyed his school with a heartfelt shout of "Thank you, Adolf!” Fast forward to 1952 when Bill, now perfectly played by Callum Turner, is called up to serve two years of National Service, possibly to be followed with being sent to fight in the Korean War.

What follows is a consistently funny as well as accurately perceptive tale of having to grow up in an unfamiliar environment where individual thoughts and actions have to be subordinated to the demands of demanding military superiors. In this category David Thewlis as the bullying by-the-book Sergeant Major and Richard E Grant’s posh officer are memorably entertaining in a movie with no poor performances.

In the event Turner and his conniving pal Caleb Landry Jones end up teaching typewriting to recruits instead of facing combat but find themselves facing the wrath of their superior offices after a prized regimental clock vanishes.

Boorman finds space, too, for convincing romantic episodes as well as credible family drama involving his sister, and never hits a dud note.

There are echoes of Carry On Sergeant (laced with acid) M*A*S*H and even Carry On Nurse in the appropriately introduced romance/sex sequences when Turner happily loses his virginity to a suitably hormone-driven girl after hopelessly losing his heart to upper-crust Tamsin Egerton.

But this is no Carry On. Boorman’s humour arises from situation and character rather than falling for the Carry On-style nudge-nudge comedy or M*A*S*H-style star smooching.

Result – a constantly enjoyable story told with wit, credibility and sharp satire that calls out for a second viewing.

Alan Frank

Ireland/UK/France/Romania 2014. UK Distributor: Curzon Film World/Artificial Eye. Colour.
114 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 03 Jun 2015