A Royal Night Out, directed by Kinky Boots’ Julian Jarrold, is an ‘inspired by true events’ tale of the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret’s V.E. Day celebrations. Starring Rupert Everett as the stuttering King George VI and English rose Emily Watson as Queen Elizabeth, Belle’s Sarah Gadon and Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) take the leads of the two young princesses looking to paint the town majestically red on the night of Britain’s greatest victory.
With Hitler’s Germany now defeated, the war in Europe has come to a victorious end for the allied forces. The population of the British Isles is heading to the streets to party their heavily rationed socks off, and a couple of royals want to get out of the palace and join them. Queen-in-waiting Elizabeth (Gadon) and younger sister Margaret (Powley), determined to witness the celebrations first-hand, are granted their wish – albeit under curfew and supervision. Quickly and oh-so-unsurprisingly, the pair lose their bumbling bodyguards and a night of booze-related shenanigans and romantic dilly-dallying ensues.
Jarrold’s attempt at a highly musical royal-induced comedy caper quickly hits an extremely well spoken bum note. As the oh-so-sensible Elizabeth embarks on a city-wide search for her dance-loving sibling on London’s craziest night, roping in help from the starry-eyed military man Jack (Jack Reynor) along the way, it takes a lot of effort to get excited about this unspectacular and unforgivably tedious flag-waving spectacle. The Princesses’ innocence to the realities of the ‘real world’ (“What’s a knocking shop?”) is the film’s charm offensive, yet despite a few fleeting moments from Powley – who is the movie’s lifeblood – the excitement levels barely pass snooze as this timid affair sizzles out without even the sighting of an excitable corgi.
Given that it’s 1945, no one expects a party of Charlie Sheen proportions, but as this was, at the time, the greatest celebration our nation had ever witnessed, A Royal Night Out plays out like a 95-year-old’s nap time. Utterly safe, extremely predictable, and highly sleep-inducing: it really is a real royal snore.