Friday, March 4, 2011
Day 63: The Young Victoria (2009)
PG, 1 hr. 44 min. Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallee. Release Date: December 18, 2009. DVD Release Date: April 20, 2010.
Watching this movie, I realized two things that I didn't know to be true before: (1) all those kids who dream of being a princess or a prince are abso-friggin-lutely nuts. (2) it wasn't only the habit of staying in the shallow end of the gene pool that made most of the royal houses of Europe go stark and raving.
The Young Victoria was recommended to me by a friend, and I'm so very glad she did, as I'd never heard of it and it happened to be available for streaming via Netflix right now. There seem to be a lot of period pieces these days about the aristocracy of the British Empire, and I seem to be getting roped in to most of them. I've loved most of them, but don't mistake me for an Anglophile. I won't even travel to the UK, because it seems like a massive expense to go someplace that seems remarkably like my own country and where the only major difference is that people talk funny (I avoid Mississippi for the same reason). For whatever reason, movies like The Dutchess, The King's Speech, and The Young Victoria are not only prevalent, but they seem to be rubbing up against that sweet spot I have for semi-historically accurate biopics.
Even among the august company I've already mentioned, The Young Victoria is a masterpiece. Unlike similar films, this movie describes what it's like to live entirely in a fishbowl, where it's considered appropriate (at least by some) for outside forces to select your friends, who you speak to and who you don't, who you marry… the list goes on and continues to suck worse with every addition. Growing up a royal isn't fun; growing up a political pawn is even less so. Every kid who ever wanted to be a royal should check this out so they can figure out something better to be… like a punching bag.
You'd think that since I've been to not one, not two but THREE frigging places named "Victoria & Albert," that I would have figured out how that part of the story goes down; because other than I know she reigned long enough to have spawned her own, slightly stuffy age of British society, I thought didn't know anything about Queen Victoria. I thought Prince Albert (no relation to the piercing, apparently. I went looking to see.) had been a… mister? What do you call a boy mistress? I figured Victoria had either eschewed marriage entirely, or married some British lord a generation older than herself. So thanks to the slow processing of my brain this morning, it came as a shock that Victoria and Albert were really married. And no, I don't consider discussing historical fact a "spoiler" so deal with that. But truly, this was a great story about a couple that did so many things for what was then more than a quarter of the planet's population. The story is moving, interesting, and the film itself is beautiful. There is little that doesn't seem pretty, even in the face of all the ugliness that tended to circulate around Mark Strong's character.
I didn't have any complaints. I'd watch this again in a cold minute. Maybe not all the time, and I probably wouldn't go through phases where I want to watch this every few days for a few weeks, but I'd see it again. A strong cast, a great story, and amazing settings make for a fun look about 120 years into the past.