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Jonny Lee Miller,
Dominated by her possessive mother and her bullying consort, Conroy, since childhood, teen-aged Victoria refuses to allow them the power of acting as her regent in the last days of her uncle, William IV's rule. Her German cousin Albert is encouraged to court her for solely political motives but, following her accession at age eighteen, finds he is falling for her and is dismayed at her reliance on trusty Prime Minister Melbourne. Victoria is impressed by Albert's philanthropy which is akin to her own desire to help her subjects. However her loyalty to Melbourne, perceived as a self-seeker, almost causes a constitutional crisis and it is Albert who helps restore her self-confidence. She proposes and they marry, Albert proving himself not only a devoted spouse, prepared to take an assassin's bullet for her, but an agent of much-needed reform, finally endorsed by an admiring Melbourne. Written by
don @ minifie-1
I just came back from seeing The Young Victoria. What a beautiful movie! Despite some flaws, I think it's probably the strongest costume drama we've had since 2006's Amazing Grace, although unlike Amazing Grace I don't think it's going to become one of my favorites. Let me set out by stating my problem with the movie: the pacing (also a common criticism of AG, but one that I considered unfounded in that instance). A large portion of it consists of a flashback, and a very awkwardly set up flashback at that; however, even putting that sequence aside, the narrative structure is just odd. The various scenes and plot threads just seem to be cobbled together without any dramatic purpose. But then again, I caught myself thinking that this approachwhile questionable artisticallymight better reflect real life than a more typical scriptwriting/editing job. The ending, too, doesn't feel particularly conclusive, but again this seems to be a conscious decision. Whether these things sink the movie or not is debatable, but they certainly distracted me.
However, The Young Victoria is also one of the best, most human love stories I've seen on the screen in many years. If what it shows us is factual, Victoria and Albert were a couple who really loved each other in every sense of the word, in spite of each others' mistakes, and in spite of the political maneuvering going on around them. Their refreshingly chaste courtship makes the intimacy they achieve in marriage that much more beautiful and satisfying: many of the scenes during their honeymoon period are highly sensual without being explicitly sexual, and the whole presentation just reeks of taste and class. But their relationship isn't idealized, either. They fight rather bitterly at one point, but make up later. (This scene does go rather over-the-top when Victoria accuses Albert for walking over her simply because she's a womana comment that seemed a little too modern in a movie that otherwise sticks close to the values of its period.)
Emily Blunt and Rupert Fiend do a beautiful job portraying this fascinating couple. Blunt manages to make Victoria a strong woman without falling into many of the standard Hollywood Strong Women clichés; again, she seems to be very much a woman of the period, but one with her own moral convictions. Friend's performance is similarly refreshing. Too often men in period movies are so charismatic and "in control" that they don't seem quite real; Friend's Albert, on the other hand, is timid, quiet, and has struggled with many of the same social inhibitions as Victoria. At the same time, he never comes across as a ninny. Kudos to them both!
The rest of the cast is quite strong, with Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Mark Strong, and Harriet Walter all giving laudable performances, but not star turns. This too is in keeping with the film: it is Victoria and Albert whom we are supposed to remember. The costumes and cinematography are simply gorgeous, and the soundtrack by Ilan Eshketi (whom people may know from Stardust) is going straight to the top of my wish-list.
Recommended to all costume drama lovers.
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