VARIETY
VARIETY

★★★☆☆

John Boorman’s 2014 film, “Queen and Country,” a sequel to the Academy Award nominated 1987 film, “Hope and Glory” is a funny, sweet and endearing work that follows up on the life of Bill Rohan (Callum Turner) a decade into the future.

“Hope and Glory” chronicled Billy’s experiences as a 10-year-old boy surviving the London Blitz during World War II and the life of his dysfunctional family. At the end of the movie, they had to move to the other side of the Thames River, in an older house with Billy’s paternal grandfather.

“Queen and Country” picks up during the 1950s, just as the lanky Billy Rohan is coming of age. After he is conscripted in the Royal Army to fight in the Korean War, the film takes a turn into this new chapter of his life as he completes basic training and befriends Percy (Caleb Landry Jones) as they both ascend into officer roles as typist teachers in the training camp. The rest of the movie follows Bill and Percy’s pursuits as they are antagonized by their commanding officers Sergeant Major Bradley (David Thewlis) and Major Cross (Richard Grant), chase after women, and deal with their own uncertainties about themselves, the war and their futures.

Turner’s performance of Bill — a sweet, often shy, sensitive and overall decent guy — allows the audience to develop a strong emotional connection with him that endures throughout his many problems. However, Johnson’s acting skills are restricted by his predictable role as Bill’s best friend Percy, who acts as a foil character. Nevertheless, Johnson still manages to give a satisfactory performance as a rather funny and likable man who is preoccupied with his own immaturity, lust and desire to cause trouble. When these complementary personalities work in tandem, the actors are able to heartwarmingly portray two close friends who, along with their bumbling friend Private Redmond, are constantly reprimanded for their antics by the straight-laced Sergeant Bradley, which further fuels their desires to disrupt the system.

Compounding this rebellious nature is a climate of general uncertainty, as revealed through Bill’s own feelings about war, politics, and the future. On the charge of convincing a new conscript to object to war on the basis of morality, Bill mentions that he is “neither communist nor capitalist.”

Mixed in with the personal and political drama is an exploration of the young men’s budding sexualities and conceptions of romance and love. Percy seems mostly caught up in lust until he meets Bill’s fun, witty, and flirtatious Canadian sister, Dawn (Vanessa Kirby), while Bill falls head over heels for the mysterious Ophelia (Tasmin Egerton) before having his heart broken and finally settling for Sophie (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), a nurse.

The plot was definitely interesting and engaging, especially if one has seen the original film, “Hope and Glory.” At times, though, parts of it seemed a bit far-fetched and bizarre — Bill’s flirtatious Canadian sister, Percy’s insane and at times sociopathic tendencies, as well as the absurdities found in Private Redmond and Sergeant Major Bradley’s characters — and had the overall effect of clashing with the more serious parts of the plot, which had a lot more potential. On the whole, however, the movie has something for everyone — suspense, drama, romance, and humor — and it doesn’t stress any one part too much.

Ultimately, “Queen and Country” is a solid follow up to Boorman’s great film “Hope and Glory,” but it doesn’t quite succeed in filling such large shoes. While the film was certainly enjoyable, there were a couple of places that distracted from the best parts of the plot and prevented this film from being what its predecessor was. But if you’re looking for something to watch that’s lighthearted, often funny and historically relevant and with a good mix of plot lines, you won’t go wrong with “Queen and Country.”

 

 

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