A direct sequel to 1987’s Hope and Glory—and the best thing that John Boorman has made since—Queen and Country begins where that film leaves off, continuing the director’s autobiographical account of his relationship with war and the collateral effect it has on the people at its periphery. When last we saw Billy Rowan, the impish schoolboy who served as Boorman’s alter ego in Hope and Glory, he was thanking Hitler for blowing his schoolhouse to smithereens. Queen and Country catches up with Bill (Turner) nine years later, the lad now a strapping young man with an appropriately adult name to match.
It’s 1952, and the Korean War is in full swing. Bill, a burgeoning cinephile without a lick of interest in being forced to shoot at strangers several thousand miles away, is whiling away his youth on the idyllic U.K. island home he shares with his parents, but it’s only a matter of time before his conscription notice arrives. It’s at boot camp that Bill meets Percy (Jones, a convincingly manic Brit), the two troublemakers becoming fast friends as they do their best to avoid one war while grappling with the fallout from another.
Marrying the military milieu of Full Metal Jacket with the wistful English cheekiness that colored The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Queen and Country is as achingly romantic a film as has ever been set during basic training. The brunt of Boorman’s bittersweet memories involve the lads chasing girls, teaching new recruits how to type, and irritating the base’s pathologically strict commanding officer (Thewlis) with their impudence. The stakes may seem low, but these high jinks resound with abstract generational import, the various episodes cohering into a moving portrait of a nation that couldn’t account for all it had lost in a war that it won.
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|Release date:||Wednesday February 18 2015|
Cast and crew
Richard E. Grant
Caleb Landry Jones