Thursday, March 05, 2009

THE YOUNG VICTORIA - all this useless beauty

THE YOUNG VICTORIA is a luscious-looking film in which two rather beautiful, warm-hearted people - Queen Victoria and the future Prince Albert - meet and almost instantly realise that they will be in love for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, this happens in the first thirty minutes of the movie, and isn't enough to hold our attention for the next seventy minutes. So a lot of time is spent watching a cast of supporting characters harrumph about the lavish sets kicking over pot plants and shout like sulky teenagers* - everyone from the then Princess Victoria's uncle, the King (Jim Broadbent), to her mother's controlling adviser (Mark Strong) to Queen Victoria's slipper adviser, Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany). Poor screenwriter Julian Fellowes even resorts to throwing in a rather ridiculous act of heroism to add to the stakes, but this is all stuff and nonsense. He knows it and we know it. The simple facts are these: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert fell in love and were deeply devoted to each other, spawning nine children who went on to rule Europe. It's enough to warm the cockles of your heart, but not enough to fill a feature film. All the beauty, all the perfectly serviceable performances, are thus rather wasted. Although I must say that I was rather impressed by Rupert Friend for the first time.

(*Maybe not coincidentally, as this was a major component of director Jean-Luc Vallee's previous film, CRAZY.)

THE YOUNG VICTORIA is on release in the UK. It opens in Israel on April 2nd; in the Netherlands on April 23rd; in Russia on April 30th; in Belgium on May 6th; and in Norway on September 11th.

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