Capturing the heart of the British nation during the celebrations of VE Day, A Royal Night Out is a sugar-coated, fact-fiction film. It follows Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret as they leave Buckingham Palace to join the celebrations with the ordinary folk in 1945. As their evening unfolds, they encounter romance, danger and the common man in this over-the-top, ‘melodramatic-esque’ portrayal of a true event.
On a basic level, it is a story of a royalist meeting a working class man as they search London city in the hopes to find her sister. Being referred to as a ‘true narrative’ beckons the question of whether these events that unfold in the film really took place. It is a known fact that the princesses were allowed out during these celebrations but there are rumours surrounding the places they went.
One could suggest that this adaptation borders along the lines of fact-fiction as only the Queen herself knows what happened during that iconic evening and whether she gave permission for this film to be produced is another question.
The film opens with a black and white shot of Princess Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) which is followed by real footage of the celebrations and Churchill giving the ‘end of war speech’ which creates a more realistic element. The use of black and white refers back to when there was no colour TV but in a slow transition the colour begins to emerge onto the face of Princess Elizabeth, creating a beautiful reference to the era in which the film is set.
Gadon’s performance as Elizabeth is melodramatic, over-the-top and overly accentuated but your eyes will not be drawn away from her. Her make up and facial features eerily make her resemble the young Queen and her performance is even more outstanding when realising she is Canadian.
One casting choice was quite a surprise when watching the film. Rupert Everett was cast as King George and although he was suitably chosen, it was difficult to watch his performance without comparing it to Colin Firth’s portrayal in The King’s Speech.
Other cast members include Emily Watson as the Queen’s Mother and Bel Powley as Princess Margaret. Jack Reynor plays the role of the male lead and love interest Jack. It must be stated that as these events are all based around rumours, it is unclear as to whether this character is actually factual.
If he is a fictional character, then it leaves the question of why was he added to the narrative? Was he predominately there to show the comparisons between social classes? To show the difference between a Royal and a working class citizen?
These questions are unanswered and leave it up the audience to decide what they want to believe.
Shot across a range of different locations including Chatsworth House as the Buckingham Palace and Hull, the film is a beautifully shot and uses a perfect amount of blue screen CGI which is only obvious after watching the extra footage.
Avid royalists would not appreciate the romance-filled film and the portrayal of the party-animal Princess Margaret but nevertheless it is still a typical, British romantic comedy set at a time when the whole country were celebrating.
Whether or not the events were true or not does not overly affect the response to it and it is a perfect film to watch on a Sunday afternoon with your grandparents.
A Royal Night Out is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from September 7th