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A Royal Night Out (2015) - Cinderella-Esque Period Drama about Queen Elizabeth


Once in a while there are films that tiptoe past our notice. It’s not too often that this happens to me with British films because I could be considered a bit obsessive about reading up on them and seeing all of the latest. This was not one of those films. I ran across it quite by chance (I think it was somehow connected to its lead actress, Sarah Gadon, whom I’d seen in other things). When I learned what it was about, I knew it was bound to be a must see. 

As the film opens, the image we see is a young Princess Elizabeth (played by Gadon). Standing at the window of Buckingham Palace, she observes the celebratory events of the May 1945 day, otherwise known as VE Day. For years, the royal family has stood united at every prominent appearance and certainly for every one of their father’s speeches, but tonight Elizabeth and her sister Margaret (Bel Powley) want to spend a night out among the people. They wish to mingle with the crowd and experience life, an idea their mother (Emily Watson) irrefutably refuses but their father (Rupert Everett) gives in. With excitement, the girls dress up and head out into the thrilling, unfamiliar and new world seeing it as they’ve never before experienced.  


No matter how I try, I have doubts I can adequately express how delightful this film is. There is something unusually beautiful about it despite the fact that its balance tips to the humorous side versus any other genre. The opening frame of the film left me uncertain because it didn’t jive with my idea of the film. The serious expression Elizabeth carries is soon replaced by frivolity and yes, even some important morals that slip into place with bittersweet results.  

Though many of its attributes can recommend this film (a feat it easily masters without any additional puffing), the cast is one of its most important. From veterans Emily Watson and Rupert Everett (how fabulous to see him in something more current) to Canadian actress Sarah Gadon, everyone is to be commended. Sarah in particular was excellent. Her British accent was good, but more than that, she played the long reigning monarch with just the kind of refined class and elegance we like to imagine the queen really is made of. This is as much Elizabeth’s journey to acceptance and seeing her role as a gift over a burden as it is a kind of romantic-comedy. 
Also a highlight is the script. The writing seems to put its best foot forward with the playful nature it consistently threads throughout its 90-some minutes. One such example involves Margaret and a wheelbarrow. Just trust me, it’s hilarious. The film can only end one way no matter its charming sense of romanticism (and the romance is darling), and in keeping in line with history, it takes the straight and narrow over the bend in the road. Also to be praised as a brilliant placement is the atmosphere (which is all high energy) without losing sight of the characters. This is a great mixture of whimsy, romance and historical drama not to mention, really quite a good character piece. 

As the making-of commentary states, no one knows what really happened on VE night 1945 aside from the fact that the princesses did have a night out. This means that much of what transpires is certainly from a writer’s imagination though that doesn’t make the adventure of it all less entertaining. On the contrary, I suspect the film’s imagination is what gives us a surprisingly deep picture of the then princess Elizabeth, and to cap it all off as only a 40s period drama should, leave us with a smile. 

Content: this film is rated PG13 and does contain one clothed sex scene which is played more for laughs than anything. There are also a few scenes in a brothel and an implication suggests a young woman is about to be raped after being drugged.
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Rissi
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17 comments:

  1. Okay I need to see this. :) Looks so great!

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    1. It's absolutely darling, Meghan. Really, I didn't want it to end. :)

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  2. Thanks for reviewing this, Rissi! This sounds really good!
    Adding to to my 'To-be-Watched' list:)

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    1. My pleasure, Ella. I was thrilled to review this one because it's really lovely. :)

      Hope you enjoy it when you have a chance to see it. :)

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  3. I'd never heard of this film before, but it looks great! I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for it.

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    1. It's so much fun to discover new films, Becky; this one definitely snuck up on me as well. I hope if you have a chance to see it, you enjoy. :)

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  4. This looks like fun I love period movies.

    Btw, did you know that if you type in rissiwrites.com it leads to an error page? Just so you know. It's shorter than writing in the entire name with www. :)

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    1. It IS fun, Jaime! I hope if/when you see it, you enjoy. :)

      Thanks for the heads up on the URL. Yes, I did know that. I think in the transfer, that's how it was set up. I'll check and see if a change can be made.

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  5. You watch some interesting films! I need to see this one! Thanks for the review.

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    1. I do like to search out some that aren't widely known - plus I am a period drama aficionado! :D

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  6. Such a wonderful review, Rissi! I only heard of this one last week when my sister said she wanted to watch it. Now after reading your take, I do too. Thanks so much for sharing! Will probably be watching it on the weekend! :)

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    1. Hi, Bekah. As always THANK YOU for reading and taking the time to comment. :)

      I sure hope you and your sis enjoyed this one if you saw it. I thought it was darling. But then I am a period drama nut, so... there is that. ;)

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  7. I love the British films. This looks right up my alley.

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  8. I usually am more of a fan of historical fiction as in a story set in a certain time period rather than following "real life" historical figures, but this one sounds adorable. Crossing my fingers that my library has/will get a copy!

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    1. It IS adorable. I'll cross my fingers with you (I'm not sure when the DVD release comes for the U.S., but do know it only recently released in theaters). Let me know what you think when you have a chance to see it. :)

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