“A Royal Night Out” gives viewers a glimpse into the enthusiasm and pure joy that engulfed the allies following the close of World War II.
Many Americans may remark on that time period by referring to the iconic Life Magazine photo of the sailor kissing a nurse in New York’s Times Square, but few would know the result of England’s celebrations at the time. Even fewer could hazard a guess as to how the royal family reacted to such news.
The film, which made great strides when it was first released to British audiences earlier this year in May, was released to a limited number of theaters in the U.S. on Dec. 4, including Fullerton’s AMC Theatre.
The film, inspired by true events, follows the destined-to-be Queen Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret of England as they duck their chaperones while participating in the events of VE Day, the day marking the allied victory in Europe.
Elizabeth, affectionately called Lilabeth by the royal family, is played by Sarah Gadon. She is very serious and responsible with the full weight of the crown she will inherit upon her, but the lightheartedness of her sister Margaret, played by Bel Powley, illicit a similar giddiness in Elizabeth herself. Elizabeth allows Margaret’s shenanigans to derail her plans throughout the film.
While the girls are away from Buckingham Palace, they’re meant to use the event as a mission to learn what their subjects are really feeling at that moment, especially after the king has given his official speech to the country, and they’re to report back their findings to their father, the king.
For anyone who has seen the film “The King’s Speech,” this is the same royal who struggled with a speech impediment in that film, King George VI. There is an added dimension of anxiety for the king as well as Elizabeth as she hears her father give his speech.
Beside the royal family drama, there is the added storyline of a somewhat romantic relationship between Elizabeth and her knight-in-shining-armor, a Royal Air Force officer named Jack, played by Jack Reynor.
Of course, for such a story, which exists in reality, the romance is doomed from the start. Elizabeth is fully aware of her duties as heir.
This film nearly meets Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s “Roman Holiday” because of the haphazard, doomed love between a princess and a common man. However, the warmth and humor that the two characters share between them are satisfyingly sentimental.
The film has some historic value, and while it has been dramatized beyond the truth of that fateful night, its personal perspective gives the audience the feeling that they’re also experiencing the madness of VE Day as well.
Parents should be cautioned against some of the madness they’ll see in the film; there is nudity, explicit use of alcohol and drugs, as well as sexual scenes.
Despite the rehashing of a similar theme from “Roman Holiday,” “A Royal Night Out” is a refreshing, new perspective on the same old royal family. It’s lovely, romantic and liable to leave you as giddy as Princess Margaret by the end.