Starring: Callum Turner, Tamsin Egerton, David Thewlis
Director: John Boorman
This lushly shot sequel to Hope and Glory – a warm, funny evocation of the director’s childhood in WWII – sees John Boorman’s alter ego, Bill (Callum Turner), called up for National Service. The time is 1952, the king is ailing and change is in the air – everywhere, that is, except in the army. Bill and his best mate Percy (Caleb Landry Jones) soon find themselves going stir crazy as they’re assigned the mind-numbing and pointless task of teaching new recruits how to type and before long they’re engaged in a feud with small-minded NCO (David Thewlis) and a hare-brained scheme to steal the regimental clock. Luckily, there are distractions on hand in the form of some bubbly nurses, and Bill gets himself involved with an older woman (Tamsin Egerton) harbouring a painful secret.
With its theme of a stuffy old order giving way to rebellious youth, Queen and Country treads familiar territory but does so in an enjoyably fun, engaging way. It’s not nearly as lusty as the various movie adaptations of Leslie Thomas’ Virgin Soldiers, novels, but it taps into the same well of youthful impudence and sexiness. As a portrait of a changing society, it’s pretty lightweight stuff – although it’s packed with acting talent such as Richard E. Grant, Sinead Cusak and John Standing, none of these older actors are given much to do other than to serve as dusty props for the younger characters’ antics. But by compensation there’s a relaxed charm to the whole proceedings and the feeling of a director happy to work with only a light hand on the reins. Landry Jones overacts terribly as a consequence, but the rest of the young cast rise to the occasion, with Egerton nailing svelte sensitivity as Bill’s femme fatale and Aimee-Ffion Edwards (The Detectorists) twinkling in her supporting role as one of the amorous nurses. 6/10
24-min behind the scenes with director and cast. Boorman explains how making these autobiographical films has caused his real memories to be overlaid by movie memories. ~ An audio commentary in which the director explains all about the National Service for those not old enough to remember anything about it and proceeds to wax lyrical about his experiences (odd, considering the satirical stance of the film). 7/10