tue 26/03/2019

DVD: Queen and Country | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Queen and Country

DVD: Queen and Country

Autobiographical account of National Service days lacks fizz

Bill Rowan's mate Percy Hapgood faces a court martial

Queen and Country is a sequel to John Boorman’s Second World War autobiographical Hope and Glory and takes up the story of his alter ego Billy Rowan as he is packed off to National Service at the time of the Korean War.

The enemy here are not so much the Communists but the hidebound hierarchy of the regular army, as the conscripts find ways of "skyving’" and undermining their tight-arsed superiors.

David Thewlis shines as the shell-shocked sergeant-major

Boorman is a fine craftsman but his films have been uneven. While Hope and Glory evoked the chaos of suburban London during the Blitz with a great deal of humour and pathos, this follow-up stumbles along with less assurance. Some of the acting is surprisingly inept – not least Tamsin Egerton as the neurotic aristocrat Bill falls for. Callum Turner brings a wide-eyed but canny innocence to the lead role, and David Thewlis shines as the shell-shocked sergeant-major, who buries the scars of his trauma under a thick veneer of rule-book tyranny.

The film works best as a time-specific coming-of-age drama, with Bill and his best mate Percy (Caleb Landry Jones) learning about women and most of all the psychological and emotional shadows that lurk beneath the army’s ridiculously inept imposition of discipline. The film hovers uneasily between Pythonesque humour and something more tragic.

Its weakness, a halting narrative which attempts a counterpoint between stifling army life and the Thames-side bohemian life at Boorman’s family home, may stem in part from Boorman’s inability, this time round, to work with material that is so deeply personal. He was more at ease with the world of wartime childhood, or, working with words, as he did in the riveting autobiographical – and more professionally focused – essays he wrote for the much-missed cinema series Projections, which he co-edited with Walter Donohue.

The film hovers uneasily between Pythonesque humour and something more tragic

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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