Queen and Country

It seems such a waste of talent that John Boorman has had to wait since The Tiger’s Tale in 2006 to make another movie.

At last there is one and, judging by the applause at the Directors’ Fortnight, Queen and Country stands a better than even chance of success.

The film is the successor to one of Boorman’s most fondly remembered films, 1987’s Hope and Glory, based on his childhood memories of the Blitz and days spent on the banks of the Thames after the family house had been destroyed. Queen and Country is set nine years later, in 1952, when Boorman did National Service and found himself doubting the efficacy of the Korean war, deaf to the military’s patriotic flannel and falling in love with the wrong women.

Queen and Country is mainly comedy, sometimes farce. At times it seems much like Carry On Up the Army. But Boorman also makes serious points about how society was changing, with the older generation regretting the end of empire and the young welcoming a new world. That makes the film worth seeing, though it has to be said that its cast, inspired by Boorman’s family and people he knew, do a good job of giving the production life and a sense of reality.

Callum Turner as Boorman’s alter ego, Tamsin Egerton, Richard E Grant and Caleb Landry Jones do a fine job of allowing us to believe in the characters. Boorman has not lost his skill for deploying actors well.