Queen and Country
John Boorman's belated sequel to Hope and Glory is a modest pleasure
Hope and Glory remains one of the great achievements of director John Boorman's 50-year career. A loving evocation of his wartime childhood, it captured a pungent sense of social conventions being eagerly abandoned and a young boy having the time of his life. Queen and Country is a belated sequel set in 1952 as the now teenage Bill Rohan (Callum Turner) is called up for national service and faces the prospect of being shipped off to serve in the Korean War. It is a tale of army high-jinks and valuable life lessons, infused with a fond nostalgia for a lost corner of national life.
Lacking the budget and focus of its predecessor, Queen and Country is still welcome and engaging. Boorman's sense of the past never succumbs to easy sentimentality and is both clear-eyed and surefooted in the friendship Bill develops with reckless rebel Percy (Caleb Landry Jones) and the follies of army rules and regulations. Anyone familiar with the films and television of the period will enjoy the echoes of Carry on Sergeant, or television favourite The Army Game.
Boorman has an endearing ability to mock his own film buff credentials, with Bill enthusing about the multiple perspectives of Kurosawa's Rashomon, only to be brought back down to earth by heart's desire Ophelia (Tamsin Egerton) pointing out that in every version of events 'the woman's always raped'. Boorman also brings out the best in his cast with David Thewlis going beyond the stereotypical sergeant-major martinet. It is great to see the ageless David Hayman return as Bill's dad Clive but John Standing as Grandfather George only confirms how much we still miss the late Ian Bannen. It's a modest pleasure of a film that leaves you hoping it is not the last word from the octogenarian Boorman.
Selected release from Fri 5 Jun.