The Young Victoria

The Young Victoria

 

Some movies just get all the elements right: they can’t help but be enjoyable. “Young Victoria” is one such movie. No matter your level of education on, or interest in, its subject, you will most likely feel like you’ve rewarded yourself with this trip to the cinemas.

Emily Blunt is pitch perfect as our lead, Young Victoria. She walks a fine line here between spoiled brat and fledgling leader. There is always a consistent awareness of her naïveté, and she is always willing to learn, but never to be pushed over. It is often hard for an actress to find such a place. She becomes to showy or in-your-face. The Victoria of this motion picture however is fragile and real. She is discovering things out for herself, and she will make mistakes. But she is a strong force, and this two-sided ability is perhaps what is most interesting about her.

Blunt is complemented by a fine cast including Rubert Friend, who is touching and strong as Prince Albert, with his strongest conviction being in the power Victoria herself holds, if only she were guided correctly. Contrast that with Paul Bettany, a much more powerful presence, and a more obvious seducer, however as the film unfolds, these two contrasting strengths get to comingle and reveal the truth power (and goodness) of each character.

Under the direction of Jean-Marc Vallee, “The Young Victoria” becomes a thoroughly enjoyable ride through a moment in history. Most of us will at least have some idea of the story, so he mostly refrains from suspense and cliffhangers (although there is one palpable moment involving a gunshot which expertly uses slow motion so as you may question the outcome). He instead focuses on the characters and wants to analyze the relationship of these two figures and how it developed and how two strong willed people could add to each other, when it may have been very easy for the two personalities to subtract from the sum total (Paul Bettany’s Lord Melbourne with his seduction and political agendas reveals this rather well).

As the end credits rolled, I was well aware I had been entertained. I wanted the movie to continue! Vallee knows when his main story is ending, and feels no need to linger. What I began to question is why? Why was this movie so effective? I had no particular interest or stake in any of these characters, nor any particular fondness for any of these actors or filmmakers. 

I have come to the conclusion that the film is just very aware of what it is, and what it is not. And each player brought all the passion and art of their craft to it. The set decoration and musical score are impeccable. The editor feels the mood of the film, and guides us through it without a false note.

It’s an interesting notion. That a film can surpass its potential on a disinterested viewer by just cutting to the essence: what is the story we are telling and how is the best way to tell this story. We all love a good tale. It is engrained in us.  The best musicals appeal to even those who loathe the singing and dancing. The best war films are labeled as “more than war films!” Really, they are just great examples of what that particular genre of story is. Because Good surpasses genre or category, and you won’t find anybody who’ll say they don’t like a good story. We all do, when told right.  And I admire these storytellers.

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