Emily Blunt portrays Victoria (1819-1901) in her last years as a princess and first years as a queen, an important time in any sovereign's life but a particularly interesting one in this case given the dramatic contrast between the suffocating imprisonment she endured under her mother the Duchess of Kent (1786-1861) (Miranda Richardson) and the confident authority she quickly demonstrated as Queen upon her accession in 1837 at the age of 18. Miss Blunt is probably prettier than the real Victoria was, but admirably captures her dutiful yet stubborn, refined yet passionate nature. Mark Strong as the Duchess's unpopular adviser Sir John Conroy (1786-1854) is the perfect villain; the viewer is likely to resent him as much as Victoria did. Some might find Jim Broadbent's exuberant performance as King William IV (1765-1837) a bit over-the-top, but I had no trouble being convinced by the intensity of his dislike of his sister-in-law. Thomas Kretschmann's portrayal of Victoria's uncle King Leopold I of the Belgians (1790-1865) is the only one I thought unfair; all he is allowed to do is scheme and vent, and I think there was probably more to Leopold (and more genuine affection for his niece and nephew) than that. But Rupert Friend's performance as Prince Albert (1819-1861), devoted to Victoria but firmly intent on using his gifts to play the substantial political and cultural role she is at first reluctant to grant him, is exquisite, and moviegoers watching him and Blunt together are likely to have no trouble understanding why the real Victoria would be so devastated by Albert's death two decades later. As a classical musician I was particularly pleased that the movie found time to demonstrate Albert's enthusiasm for the great composers of his time.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
The Young Victoria
I've not seen it yet, but here is an interesting review by Theodore Harvey. The portrayal of Leopold I really sounds too harsh. He is not my favorite Belgian king but, like Mr. Harvey, I do think he was probably more than a mere coldhearted, selfish intriguer. He was actually Victoria's favorite uncle!