The Young Victoria


The Young Victoria

We are QUITE amused!!!

(2009) Biographical Drama (Apparition) Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Thomas Kretschmann, Mark Strong, Julian Glover. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee

Most Americans have a picture in their head about Queen Victoria of England (if they even know who she is at all) of a dour old matronly sort dressed entirely in black with a perpetually sour expression, exclaiming “We are not amused!” in a posh accent. The woman who would be the longest-reigning queen in English history was obviously much more than that; she was also, at one time, a young woman.

As the movie begins, King William (Broadbent) nears the end of his reign. He is childless, so the daughter of his late brother, the Duke of Kent is his heir. Victoria (Blunt) lives in isolation with her mother (Richardson) and her mom’s lover, Sir John Conroy (Strong). Both of them very much want a regency with Sir John taking control of the throne, but Victoria is having none of it. In a show of the backbone that would define her reign, she refuses to sign papers handing over her authority and rights to her mother. It will not be the last time she will be underestimated.

Sir John isn’t the only one with designs on the crown. King Leopold of Belgium (Kretschmann) is eager to marry off his son, Prince Albert (Friend) to the young girl, so he coaches his son on Victoria’s likes and dislikes. She finds him out and when she confronts him with it, he owns up. This impresses her.

Good thing too, because she needs all the friends she can get. The Prime Minister Lord Melbourne (Bettany) appears on the surface to be Victoria’s ally but he’s been playing the political game for so long that he can’t be trusted. Everybody at court wants some measure of power, and it is up to her to sort through it. It isn’t always easy, but with Albert at her side, she has an ally and confidant that she can at last truly count on.

This is an impressive-looking film much of it filmed at the actual locations the events took place at (with the notable exception of Buckingham Palace). The costumes are sumptuous (the film won an Oscar for it) and the movie appears to be meticulously researched. As such, it’s candy for the eyes.

It’s also candy for the soul as Blunt gives a terrific performance as the young queen. Ever since her acclaimed work in The Devil Wears Prada Blunt has been looking for that one role that can show she can carry a film on her back, and this more than does the trick – she is every inch the Queen and yet just as vulnerable as the rest of us. While she didn’t get a nomination, this was certainly Oscar-worthy work.

The movie lets us down in that it drags quite a bit through all the turns and twists of court politics. Sometimes it gets hard to tell one lord from the other duke and what their agenda is, but consider this is essentially a condensed version of what really happened. Imagine trying to keep track of it if you were Victoria herself.

The love story between Victoria and Albert are at the heart of the movie and it is important that the relationship seem realistic. Fortunately, the chemistry between Blunt and Friend is genuine, and the relationship works; it’s easy to see why Victoria adored him so, and why she mourned his untimely death for her entire life.

While this isn’t perfect, it is nonetheless quite satisfactory both as history lesson and as entertainment. While there are some factual fudging, there isn’t nearly as much as is usual for a Hollywood production and that’s reason to give thanks right there.

WHY RENT THIS: Very informative on the life of one of the most influential figures of the English monarchy. Blunt does a tremendous job in the title role, and the production is authentic-looking and lush.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: The movie is slow-moving at times and keeping some of the palace intrigue straight is a bit tiring.

FAMILY VALUES: There is a little bit of violence, some semi-chaste sexuality and a few bad words. While this will bore most of the little ones, it is certainly fit for nearly all audiences.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: One of Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting is played by Princess Beatrice of York, the great-great-great-great granddaughter of Victoria. Her mother, Sarah Ferguson, is one of the film’s producers.

NOTABLE DVD EXTRAS: There’s a featurette on “The Real Queen Victoria” featuring excerpts from her diary as well as the actors giving their perceptions – occasionally inaccurate ones – on Her Majesty. There is also a featurette on the Oscar-winning work of Costume Designer Sandy Powell.

BOX OFFICE PERFORMANCE: $27.4M on a production budget of $35M; the movie was a flop.

FINAL RATING: 6.5/10

TOMORROW: Post Grad

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New Releases for the Week of December 25, 2009


New Releases for the Week of December 25, 2009

Sherlock Holmes engages in a little breaing and entering.

SHERLOCK HOLMES

(20th Century Fox) Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly, James Fox, Geraldine James, Robert Maillet. Directed by Guy Ritchie

This is the latest re-imagining of the Arthur Conan Doyle character. Here, director Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) gives Holmes a more action-adventure bent as the legendary detective and his faithful companion Dr. Watson take on an evil noble with the fate of the very British Empire at stake!

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action, some startling images and a scene of suggestive material)

It’s Complicated

(Universal) Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, John Krasinski. A woman who’s husband left her for a younger woman (which he later married) finds herself in the odd position of having an affair with her ex-husband. That’s right, now she’s the other woman…only she was there first. It’s all so…so…complicated. Say, wait a minute…(please note that the studio has appealed the MPAA’s “R” rating and is looking to get a more reasonable PG-13).

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: R (for some drug content and sexuality. PENDING APPEAL)

Nine

(Weinstein) Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Sophia Loren, Penelope Cruz. Director Rob Marshall, an Oscar winner for Chicago, revisits the Broadway musical with this big screen version of a 1982 Tony winner based on Federico Fellini’s notorious film 8 ½. The story revolves around a famous film director reaching a personal crisis of epic proportions while balancing the women in his life.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content and smoking)

The Young Victoria

(Apparition) Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Miranda Richardson, Paul Bettany. A chronicle of the turbulent early years of the legendary English queen’s reign, and of her romance with Prince Albert of Prussia. This features an all-star cast of respected British thespians, too many to list in this preview.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: PG (for some mild sensuality, a scene of violence, and brief incidental language and smoking)