Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?
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
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In the opening coronation sequence, the Archbishop of Canterbury anoints Victoria by dipping the first two fingers of his right hand into the chrism (holy oil). Anointings are done with the thumb only. See more »
The 63 year reign of Queen Victoria is perhaps one of the most documented and popularly known historical reigns in British history. On the one hand, her story lacks the theatrics of earlier royals thanks to a change in social climate and attitudes, and on the other her story is one that perpetuates because it is notably human. Taking on the earlier years of her life where the budding romance between herself and the German Prince Albert was taking forefront, director Jean-Marc Vallée who has only until recently remained in the unbeknownst shadows of the industry here takes Victoria's story and captures that human element so vital to her legacy. It's a story that feels extremely humble considering its exuberant background, and yet that's partly what gives it a distinct edge here that separates it from the usual fare.
Taking a very direct and focused approach that centres in on a brief five or so year period between her ascension and marriage to Albert, The Young Victoria does what so little period pieces of this nature offer. Instead of attempting a sprawling encapsulation of such a figure's entire life, Vallée instead opts to show one of the lesser known intricacies of Victoria's early years which are easily overlooked in favour of the more publicly known accolades. The result is a feature that may disgruntle historians thanks to its relatively flippant regards to facts and the like, yet never to let document get in the way of extracting a compelling story, writer Julian Fellowes sticks to his guns and delivers a slightly romanticised yet convincing portrayal. Vallée takes this and runs, making sure to fully capitalise on those elements with enough restraint to maintain integrity in regards to both the history involved and the viewer watching.
A major part in the joy of watching The Young Victoria play out however simply lies in the production values granted here that bring early 1800's Regal Britain to life with a vigorous realism so rarely achieved quite so strikingly by genre films. Everything from the costume designs, sets, hair styles, lighting and photography accentuates the grandiose background inherent to Victoria's story without ever over-encumbering it. Indeed, while watching Vallée's interpretation come to life here it is very hard not to be sucked in solely through the aesthetics that permeates the visual element; and then there's the film's score also which works tremendously to further the very elegant yet personal tones that dominate Fellowes' script. Entwining the works of Schubert and Strauss into Victoria and Albert's story not only works as a point of reference for the characters to play with, but also melds to the work with an elegance and refrain that echoes composer Ilan Eshkeri's original work just as well.
Yet for all the poignant compositions, lush backdrops and immaculate costumes that punctuate every scene, the single most important factor hereand indeed to most period dramasare the performances of the cast and how they help bring the world they exist in to life. Thankfully The Young Victoria is blessed with an equally immaculate ensemble of thespians both young and old that do a fantastic job of doing just that. Between the sweet, budding romance of Victoria (Emily Blunt) and Albert (Rupert Friend) and the somewhat antagonistic struggles of her advisors and the like (spearheaded by a terrific Mark Strong and Paul Bettany), the conflicts and warmth so prevalent to Fellowe's screenplay are conveyed perfectly here by all involved which helps keep the movie from being a plastic "nice to look at but dim underneath" affair so common with these outings.
In the end, it's hard to fault a work such as The Young Victoria. It's got a perfectly touching and human sense of affection within its perfectly paced romance, plus some historical significance that plays as an intriguing source of interest for those in the audience keen on such details. Of course, it may not take the cinematic world by storm and there lacks a certain significance to its overall presence that stops it from ever becoming more than just a poignantly restrained romantic period drama; yet in a sense this is what makes it enjoyable. Vallée never seems to be striving for grandeur, nor does he seem content at making a run-of-the-mill escapist piece for aficionados. Somewhere within this gray middle-ground lies The Young Victoria, sure to cater to genre fans and those a little more disillusioned by the usual productions; beautiful, memorable but most of all, human.
A review by Jamie Robert Ward (http://www.invocus.net)
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