27 August 2016 | l_rawjalaurence
Romanticized Retelling of an Actual Event
On 8 May 1945, the official end of War in Europe was celebrated, and London went wild. Spontaneous parties broke out in the streets, celebrations continued long into the night, and the bars, clubs and other areas devoted to pleasure did a roaring trade.
In Buckingham Palace the young Princesses Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon), than aged nineteen, and sister Margaret (Bel Powley) yearn to join the celebrations, but their stuffed-shirt mother Elizabeth (Emily Watson) and King George VI (Rupert Everett) are particularly reluctant to allow their daughters the freedom to do so. Eventually they agree, so long as the girls are accompanied by two chaperons, Lieutenants Pryce and Burridge (Jack Laskey, Jack Gordon), from Chelsea Barracks.
There begins a wild night of partying, celebration, and chasing, as the two Princesses lose their chaperons and end up moving from place to place - from Piccadilly, to Soho, and thence to Chelsea Barracks - being exposed to aspects of London life that they have never previously experienced, including making the tea. During their one night of freedom they learn something about what ordinary people think of the Royal Family and their role in society.
Based on a true story, and with more than a nod towards classics such as William Wyler's ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953), where a princess (Audrey Hepburn) enjoys a similar night off the leash of protocol, A ROYAL NIGHT OUT tells a picaresque tale, as Princess Margaret gets blind drunk and has to be rescued by her sister, who eventually reveals her true identity when things threaten to get a little out of hand. There are some amusing moments, especially when the Princesses try to communicate with ordinary Londoners in their marked RP accents, thereby proving just how sheltered an existence they have hitherto led.
Gadon and Powley give creditable impersonations of the young princesses, although Powley's accent veers towards the Sloane Ranger rather than the upper-class gell of the Forties. Everett's George VI bears more than a passing resemblance, both vocally and facially, to the current Prince Charles, while his spouse comes across as a snob with a perpetual desire to drown her sorrows in a gin and tonic.
Director Julian Jarrold makes some important points about the ways in which Princess Elizabeth (especially) learned a lot about her people as a result of this night. What a shame, therefore, that when she acceded to the throne, she should become so remote that she failed to understand Princess Diana's extraordinary popular appeal. But that judgment is made with the benefit of hindsight. As a lighthearted piece of entertainment, A ROYAL NIGHT OUT is definitely worth looking at.