The first, and hardest step, was to be allowed out of the palace, but when George (Rupert Everett) and Queen Elizabeth (Emily Watson) finally caved in, the princesses set off with their two soldier chaperones, for a night of celebration. Margaret (Bel Powley) is somewhat more confident, and wants to break her curfew and spend the night drinking and dancing. Elizabeth (Sarah Gadon) can’t quite keep up, and after losing sight of her sister, finds herself in the company of soldier Jack (Jack Reynor) – as the pair frantically search for some familiar faces, only to encounter a series of mishaps and misdemeanours along the way.
Though setting itself up as a true to life drama – it becomes apparent that A Royal Night Out is using up rather large quantities of its artistic licence (unless the Queen really did knock out a big, bald mobster). However this is exactly where this picture suffers, as the blend of real life and fiction is frustrating, and we’re caught halfway between realism, and full on farce. Jarrold needs to pick one and revel in that. Either you offer an authentic account of what occurred that night, or you thrive in the frivolity and fiction, and make a film that’s entertaining and extravagant – and this falls carelessly between the two.
Nonetheless, there is a sense of enchantment to this title, and an exuberance that emanates off the narrative, as the celebratory mood of the characters extends to the viewer. It makes for an uplifting film, as we watch on as people just party, with a mixture of relief and joy, as though they’re smiling for the very first time in six years. The 40s are captured well too, while the gentle sound of the crooning soundtrack makes for an affable piece of cinema. The royals are humanised effectively too, as we get beneath the facade and see them as just regular girls who want to go out for the evening and have a bloody G&T. But it’s somewhat contrived in its execution, and a notion that is pushed to a point of tedium.
Nonetheless, A Royal Night Out is an undemanding, congenial watch, and though it’s all a little silly, you’d be hard pressed to find a more suitable film to indulge yourself in on a rainy, Sunday afternoon.