Considering he’s now an octogenarian, it’s incredible to know that the venerable filmmaker John Boorman is still making movies, still telling stories for us to revel in, and illuminating the big screen with his innovative approach to the art-form. Having been nominated for five Academy Awards between Hope and Glory and Deliverance, he’s now back with his first feature in eight years, presenting the romantic drama Queen and Country, though sadly it’s not quite of the high standard we have come to expect. Though to be fair, at the age of 82, that he can be excused somewhat.
Set in the wake of the Second World War, we delve into the life of Bill Rohan (Callum Turner), who signs up to the military to fight in the Korean War. The straight-laced, diligent young man is distracted however, by his unruly roommate Percy (Caleb Landry Jones) who spends the majority of his time wanting to seek revenge on their tyrannical commander Bradley (David Thewlis), and the love of his life, the elusive Ophelia (Tamsin Egerton).
Though Boorman has shown off his aptitude for creativity across his career, whereby his films are difficult to define and label, often seamlessly blending between genres – in the case of Queen and Country it’s that very deviation from type which proves to be it’s greatest shortcoming, as a muddled, convoluted picture struggling to find a consistent tone. With romantic tendencies, and a sincere, stony-faced approach to the relationship between Bill and Ophelia, back at the camp the feature takes on the form of a full-on farce, as a satire more akin to the likes of M*A*S*H. The romance remains the prevalent theme however, though that itself is not formidable enough to invest in, and ensure the audience’s attention doesn’t waiver. There’s a distinct lack of palpable chemistry, and all that transpires is a film that is ultimately rather emotionally disengaging – again, not helped by the almost slapstick, comedic tendencies.
Queen and Country is not a bad movie, not by any stretch, it’s just wildly forgettable. With a complex narrative, we proceed down far too many tangents, and the problem is, we tend to get lost on the way back.