Saturday, January 2, 2010

Movies: The Young Victoria

Last night I was in the mood for seeing a movie on the big screen. My first choice would have been Avatar, but since no one else wanted to see that with me, I went with my second choice: The Young Victoria.

I've been interested in seeing it for two reasons. First, I absolutely love Emily Blunt. I think she is incredibly talented and can't wait to see what she does in the future. The second reason was that Sarah Ferguson was one of the producers. The New York Times had an article a few weeks back about Fergie and her role in making this film.

I was not disappointed in the film at all. Emily Blunt's performance was wonderful. She just seems to absorb her characters, completely becoming them. Her portrayal of Queen Victoria wasn't what I expected. While Victoria can be considered the "heroine" here, especially since the film heavily focuses on her romance with Albert, Blunt captures the nuancies of her character. She portrayed both her strength as well as her insecurities and childishness. Rupert Friend (Prince Albert) was equally memorable. He was a man torn between giddy young love and lost without a role in his wife's court. I fell in love with his character. The rest of the cast was equally memorable, including Miranda Richardson as Victoria's weak-minded but power hungry mother, and Paul Bettany as the slightly sinister Lord Melbourne.

Unfortunatley The Young Victoria finds itself torn between being a dramaticized documentary and a romantic drama. There is no one story line to follow. Half the film seems devoted to chronicling Victoria's seccession to the throne and its perils and the other half to portraying her romance with Albert. For this reason the film lacks a conclusive ending. Victoria is still young and fairly niave, and we never see her master her role as Queen, make decisions based on her own beliefs, or find satisfying independence, which was her goal. Despite their love Albert and Victoria still have many trials ahead of them, mainly balancing Victoria's role as queen with the dinamics of their husband/wife relationship.

The stylistic filming was distracting at points. While I liked the use of shadows, the camera frequently went out of focus and I was unsure why that technique was used. It didn't seem to enhance any moments or convey a particular feeling.

I would recommend this movie to anyone who loves period dramas or romances. The costumes and settings were gorgeous, the love story was captivating, and the acting was superb. I would give it four out of five stars.

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