Monday, February 8, 2010

Wendy's Films of 2010 #30: The Young Victoria (2009)

Watching films like this brings me back to my most vulnerable state. I have always had a weak spot for period pieces, especially those relatively cheerful romances that combine the most irresistible, devastatingly affectionate couples with gorgeous costumes and intriguing stories. Nearly very shot was like stepping into the most beautiful, luxurious imaginings of my childhood. As a girl I would drape our old yellow afghan around myself, its tassels dancing as I would twirl and pretend to be some exotic duchess or queen. The costumes in this film managed to express my most fantastic daydreams, with a plethora of expensive jewels, lace, stunning colours and fabrics. They were simply breathtaking, and I'll be stunned if Sandy Powell doesn't win another Oscar for her efforts, though Coco could potentially steal away the prize.

I loved Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria; her tone of voice and manner of being seem to lend themselves to a young woman attempting to lead a country while still unsure of herself. She skillfully balances the insecurity of a young woman and assertiveness of a girl brought up to be the queen of a patriarchal society. Rupert Friend performs his role as Victoria's unaffected suitor and husband Prince Albert with subtlety and quiet passion. Their love was not just fabricated for cinema, but a historical truth; according to Mike the Boss, several of the letters they wrote in the film came directly from the correspondence the two shared.

The film's focus lies heavily on romance, but does notice other issues and significant historical advances of the time. It is a member of a genre which seems to have been dubbed queen or crownsploitation (I prefer the later, it has a nice ring to it), and I enjoy the way it sheds new light on a Queen often thought of as a hefty, middle-aged force to be reckoned with.

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