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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film - Michael Bodey Twit­ter: @michael­bodey

Writ­ing about the screen isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, for two rea­sons. First, I’m the rube who watches films and tele­vi­sion so you don’t have to. And, frankly, I can do with­out the sink­ing feel­ing that sets in be­fore see­ing another Michael Bay film, or the “an­tici­point­ment” af­ter watch­ing any film that doesn’t meet ex­pec­ta­tions.

That said, there are worse ex­pe­ri­ences in jobs of greater con­se­quence. And very oc­ca­sion­ally, a film jumps out of the box, up­end­ing your prej­u­dices.

A Royal Night Out (M, Para­mount, 97min, $39.99) is one of those films. I con­cede I ap­proached this Bri­tish film about the VE Day es­capades in Lon­don of princesses El­iz­a­beth and Mar­garet with trep­i­da­tion, dread­ing a fey drama­ti­sa­tion of an event about which pre­cious lit­tle is known.

Yet it is an ut­ter de­light. A Royal Night Out won’t win any awards or open your mind to any greater truth, but it is jolly good fun. Af­ter all, the most con­se­quen­tial nar­ra­tive ques­tion in the whole pif­fle is whether the fu­ture Queen kissed a boy.

That’s not such a bad thing, though, be­cause the film’s energy and fine sense of pe­riod de­tail (the crowd scenes are par­tic­u­larly well-han­dled on a mi­nor bud­get) push it along with­out need­ing to slow down in search of gravitas.

Cana­dian ac­tress Sarah Gadon and Bri­tain’s Bel Pow­ley de­serve much of the credit.

Gadon is a glo­ri­ous El­iz­a­beth, per­haps a lit­tle sharper and more vul­ner­a­ble than the real thing but charis­matic within a cast that has its big stars, in­clud­ing Ru­pert Everett as a dandy Ge­orge VI and Emily Wat­son as the Queen Mother. And Pow­ley, as Mar­garet (play­ing a lit­tle older than the then 14-yearold), is a scene stealer.

These kinds of Brit pe­riod pieces are meant to be di­rected by a cer­tain kind of stodgy Pom. Ju­lian Jar­rold’s re­sume has Brideshead Re­vis­ited (the 2008 film) and the telemovie Great Ex­pec­ta­tions in it, but also Kinky Boots, the dark and very good telemovie Red Rid­ing and a few episodes of the TV se­ries Cracker, so he can mix it up.

And he hits the right tones here, be­ing re­spect­ful yet ir­rev­er­ent, light yet se­ri­ous, soapy and sin­cere. It is a won­der­ful lit­tle film.

Another down­side of this job is know­ing too much about a show be­fore see­ing it. Film and TV media is now so per­va­sive, dis­cov­er­ing some­thing is rare.

I wish I had dis­cov­ered the HBO doc­u­men­tary se­ries The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (MA15+, HBO, 258min, $39.95), par­tic­u­larly its con­clu­sion. It cre­ated a storm when it was aired in the US, months be­fore air­ing here on Fox­tel.

If you haven’t heard about this de­noue­ment to a seven-year mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, this is a stun­ning, al­beit very graphic, se­ries that raises many ques­tions about the doc­u­men­tary form.

Any­way, imag­ine if the US ra­dio se­ries Se­rial had a con­clu­sion. This is it.

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