Monday, December 21, 2009

THE YOUNG VICTORIA (2009)


Written by Julian Fellowes


Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee


Where & When: AMC Century City 15, West Los Angeles, CA. December 18, 2009 4:55PM


This is the story of Queen Victoria's (1819-1901) early accession to the throne of England and her romance with Prince Albert. Her reign over the United Kingdom lasted for sixty three years which is the longest of any British monarch in history.

The film begins when she is just a young girl, Princess Victoria (Emily Blunt) who is raised isolated from other people. She was not allowed to even walk down the stairs alone and she had to share a bedroom with her mother, the Dutchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson) until she becomes Queen. This was devised by the Dutchess and her lover, Sir John Conroy (Mark Strong) to keep her away from people they felt were undesirable and to keep her under their control. As she gets older, Victoria resents all of these rules that are forced upon her. Sir Conroy tries to bully Victoria into making him her private secretary but she resists his threats.

Victoria first meets Prince Albert of Belgium (Rupert Friend), who is her first cousin, during a visit arranged by her uncle, King Leopold (Thomas Kretschmann). He wanted to position his son to marry the future queen and have some influence over the throne. Victoria and Albert are attracted to each other but Victoria is not interested in marriage at this time. Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany), the Prime Minister of the Whig party and an acquaintance of the Dutchess, meets the Princess and develops a friendship with her. He hopes to use this for his party's advantage when Victoria becomes Queen.

In 1837, her uncle, King William (Jim Broadbent) passes away and at eighteen, Victoria is now Queen of the United Kingdom. After her coronation, she takes residence at Buckingham Palace and has Sir Conroy banned from her presence and has her mother sent over to a distant corner of the palace since her mother must live with the Queen since she is unmarried.

Since she was isolated for most of her life, Queen Victoria is concerned that she is too young and inexperienced to handle her duties, so she relies on Lord Melbourne for advise. He uses his influence over the Queen to help his party but soon the people are unhappy the way they are being governed. The Whig party becomes unpopular and so does the Queen.

Prince Albert pays Queen Victoria another visit and she now looks at him much differently. Since she is a Queen, she is the one who must propose marriage and Albert accepts. The Prince doesn't approve of her reliance of the counsel of Lord Melbourne and lets the Queen know it. He soon replaces Lord Melbourne as the Queen's political advisor.

Soon after their wedding, The Queen becomes pregnant with their first child. One day while the Royals are riding in a carriage, a man pulls out a gun and attempts to assassinate the Queen but Prince Albert is shot protecting her. There is concern he might not make it but the Prince recovers and they continue to rule together until his death in 1861.

Being an American, I don't really get the whole concept of inbreeding royalty, their strange order of things or their contributions to society but they have existed for centuries and Europeans still seem to embrace the idea of them, so what do I know. Now I like a good period piece just like the next guy, but "The Young Victoria", while beautiful to look at, is deadly dull and static. This film felt like a history lecture conducted by a stuffy teacher and just like I did in school, I nodded off briefly in the middle of it. Just like the film,"Coco Before Chanel", "The Young Victoria" takes the beginning of the Queen's life and builds an entire film around it and the problem is that it's just really not that interesting. It's too bad because Ms Blunt gives a very good performance as Queen Victoria. And also like, "Coco Before Chanel", this is not a bad film but it is something you should either rent or catch on cable television.