Queen and Country (film)

Queen and Country is a 2014 British drama film written and directed by John Boorman. It was screened at the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[2] The film is a sequel to Boorman's Hope and Glory (1987), and features several of the same characters, though with the passage of time most are played by different actors.

Queen and Country
Queen and Country (film).jpg
Film poster
Directed byJohn Boorman
Produced byJohn Boorman
Kieran Corrigan
Written byJohn Boorman
StarringCallum Turner
Vanessa Kirby
David Thewlis
Richard E. Grant
Music byStephen McKeon
CinematographySeamus Deasy
Edited byRon Davis
Distributed byBBC Worldwide
Release date
  • 20 May 2014 (2014-05-20) (Cannes)
  • 8 May 2015 (2015-05-08) (UK)
Running time
115 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$41,297[1]


On Pharaoh's Island, Bill (Callum Turner) is now 18 and receives his call-up papers for national service. Reporting to the army training camp, he quickly makes friends with fellow-conscript Percy (Caleb Landry Jones). Though most of their intake are sent off to fight in the Korean War, he and Percy are made sergeants and spend their days teaching typing. The bane of their life is Sergeant-Major Bradley (David Thewlis), a decorated veteran of World War II who is obsessive about doing things by the book. An ally against Bradley is the orderly Redmond (Pat Shortt), who teaches them the military arts of "skiving" (evading work). However, Bradley succeeds in getting Bill charged with subverting a private's will to fight by telling him some truths about Korea. The case is thrown out when Bill shows that all he said had been printed in The Times.

Outside the camp, both friends explore what the town offers by way of women. Bill falls for a beautiful but depressive upper-class girl he calls Ophelia (Tamsin Egerton), while Percy is smitten by a bubbly student nurse called Sophie (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) (who throws out some lures to Bill as well). On leave for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, Percy steals a car to join Bill, who is with his family on the Island. Both are delighted to find Bill's renegade sister Dawn (Vanessa Kirby), who has returned from Canada, and Dawn is soon charming Percy. Ophelia makes a brief visit but has to dash back into London. On the television, the family spot her in Westminster Abbey as one of the nobility, something which Bill did not know. Back in camp, Bill gets word that Ophelia is again in hospital with mental problems and, when he visits her, she rejects him brutally. Shocked and in tears, he is found by Sophie, who leads him to an empty room and takes his virginity. Percy then confides that he lost his to Dawn.

Percy however is finding military life a strain and with Redmond concocts an absurd scheme to steal the mess clock, a gift from Queen Victoria. An investigation pinpoints his guilt, upon which Redmond betrays him. A court martial sentences him to military prison and Bill is allowed to escort him there in handcuffs. Dawn jumps on the train and says she will wait for him. Bill then goes to visit Bradley, who has cracked under the strain of Percy's persecution and is in a military hospital on mental grounds, but Bradley rejects him brutally. In a ward he sees the private he allegedly dissuaded from fighting in Korea, who has lost a foot there.

The film ends back on the Island, where Sophie is in the river acting while Bill with a new film camera is filming her. Leaving the camera running, he jumps in to embrace her.



According to the director,[3] though primarily a coming of age film, it also aimed to be a state of Britain film, capturing some of the great changes the country was undergoing. The British Empire was disappearing and, like the British Army which had sustained it, the nation had to find a new place in the world. The Army was radically different in having to cope with peacetime mass conscription of mostly unwilling and rebellious 18 year olds. An era passed with the death of King George VI, who had been the focus of loyalty during World War II, and the coronation of his daughter. Some saw a new age of greatness for Britain, while others were pessimistic, and television was beginning its process of turning the nation into passive spectators.


The film has received positive reviews from critics and currently holds a 77% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 91 reviews, with an average of 6.82/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Graceful and bittersweet, Queen and Country finds writer-director John Boorman revisiting past glories with warmth and wisdom."[4] Variety stated in its review that "it remains a pleasure to spend time in the presence of these characters, and a third volume — perhaps focused on Bill’s entrance into the British film industry — would hardly be unwelcome."[5]


The film made its debut as part of the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It was scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom in May 2015.


  1. ^ Queen and Country on Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ "Cannes Directors' Fortnight 2014 lineup unveiled". Screendaily. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  3. ^ Reader's Digest, retrieved 24 December 2016[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Queen and Country (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  5. ^ Variety review of Queen and Country

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