This is one of those movies that you go and see with an open mind and no expectations. It was advertised as heartwarming but they should have added in the terms funny, incredulous and eye opening.
If the Princess Elizabeth and the Princess Margaret really did pop out on the evening of VE Day, then I hope it was every bit as much fun as the movie was. I really enjoyed this movie. Not just because it was genuinely nice to see the two princesses running around London like fish out of water, but because it also shows the humanity, humility, steadfastness and determination of the population of that era.
This film was every bit as much about how the war affected the common man, the criminal, the soldiers and the people of Great Britain at that time. However, we can't ignore the two main protagonists of the story.
Princess Margaret is played by Bel Powley, who will be known by UK viewers as the character of Bianca Dyke from the series Benidorm. She really steals a lot of the scenes in this movie, playing the often mischievous and completely innocent young princess. She is completely open, outspoken and at the same time often completely clueless about what is going on around her. She seems to drift from one near disaster to another, escaping by the skin of her teeth and a lot of luck. You can almost see how she will turn out as an adult.
Princess Elizabeth, or Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor, service number 230873 is the heir to the throne and not a bad driver either. Like her sister, she is grateful to be allowed out to experience the victory celebrations. Unlike her sister, she is more worldly but she still has problems dealing with the real world. However, she somehow manages to survive the night by enlisting the help of a young RAF serviceman called Jack. She is played by Sarah Gadon, who does a more than impressive British accent despite her Canadian roots. In fact, I was impressed with her whole demeanor. She carried the presence and the inbuilt steadfastness that we have come to expect from our Queen, whilst offering up the limited innocence of a young princess.
Jack, played by Jack Reynor is the third of the main characters that we are introduced to during this movie. From the moment he helps the young princess Elizabeth by paying her bus fare, to the point at which he is dropped off at his barracks at the end of the movie, he is an utterly believable character. His lack of respect for the upper classes is fueled by his experiences during the war, but it doesn't cloud his sense of common decency and his ability to help those that really need it. Watching him take breakfast with the King and Queen Elizabeth at the palace, you can see the measure of the man himself. His respect for the King, despite his feelings, comes through and he soon realises that these people are just as insecure and fragile as everyone else.
Despite the events that are portrayed in the movie, the whole story seems utterly believable. It is supposed to be based upon a real story, but just how much of that story is wishful thinking and just how much of it is true is left to the viewer to decide. No doubt there are some aspects of it that are based upon fact. Either way this is a fun, silly, often romantic look at an event that occurred seventy years ago and should never be forgotten. I loved it, laughed at it and fully enjoyed it.
I should also just mention Rupert Everett and Emily Watson who play utterly believable roles as the King and Queen. Mr Everett plays a fully believable King who battles with insecurity and the role of being a fair father as well, whilst Emily Watson plays the woman probably best known as the Queen Mother by my generation.
A top movie in all ways and one I will watch again and again over the years, just for the fun of it.