Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Queen & Country

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema: Queen & Country

Article excerpt

Queen & Country

15, Nationwide

Queen & County is John Boorman's follow-up to his 1987 semi-autobiographical film Hope & Glory , although why a sequel now, after 28 years, I don't know. (We're not in regular contact.) I can only tell you that if you absolutely loved the first film, as I did -- and still do -- the news I'm about to deliver is not great, but there's no avoiding it, so here you are: this is tonally confused, emotionally unengaging, doesn't seem relevant in any way, and as for Bill, who was once so bright and charming and promising, he's nothing special any more. I don't know what I expected him to turn out like, but dull? I didn't see that coming, I confess.

Hope & Glory was the story of nine-year-old Bill (then played by Sebastian Rice-Edwards) and his family as they endured the London Blitz. If you haven't seen it, you should, and if you have but can't remember the scene where, say, all the local boys line up soberly to take a peek down Pauline's pants, or the whole class has to recite their nine times table while wearing gas masks, it may be time to see it again. This film opens with one of the final scenes from that film; the one where Bill turns up for school only to discover it's been bombed and the playground is full of kids jubilantly punching the air and exclaiming, 'Thank you, Adolf!' Then it picks up the thread nearly a decade later when Bill (Callum Turner, delivering an uninspiring performance as possibly dictated by such an uninspiring role) has been conscripted into national service on the cusp of the Korean war. While at the army base, he teams up with fellow conscript Percy, as played by Caleb Landry Jones, who overacts in such a bizarrely jittery way that, had I been in regular contact with Mr Boorman, I'd have certainly advised him to rein in Landry Jones, and do it now, without delay. (It pays to be in regular contact with me, I think Mr Boorman is now discovering, to his cost.)

The pair set about wooing girls (bit of a yawn) and, in Bill's instance, falling for the posh, unattainable, slightly mad, underwritten one (see last parenthesis) but, mostly, they're preoccupied with getting their own back on their immediate army superior, Sgt Major Bradley (David Thewlis), who is a stickler for the rules and alert to even the most minor infraction. …

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