"You are confusing stubbornness with strength, my dear. And I warn you, the people will not like you for it."
~Queen Adelaide, The Young Victoria
I've been trying for days to compose a systematic and intelligent review of The Young Victoria, but all that's been coming to mind is, "SQUEEE, I LOVED THIS MOVIE SO VERY VERY MUCH," and that's not very informative for those of you who haven't actually seen it yet.
Although if you haven't seen it yet, get thee to the library. Because you may as well know from the start that I highly, highly recommend this film.
I've always been a bit of a nitpicker when it comes to historical films. "Did that really happen, or did they just make it up?" I enjoyed Miss Potter and Amazing Grace immensely (hmm, I need to review Amazing Grace at some point... still haven't done that...) but while I was watching both of them, I kept wondering how much of the story was true to life and how much of it was fictionalized.
Not so with The Young Victoria (TYV). I knew ahead of time that it wasn't going to be absolutely accurate, and perhaps that helped a bit. But I think the real reason I didn't care about accuracy was that it was just such a smashing good story. So what if a few events were changed? Who cares if Emily Blunt doesn't look very much like the real Victoria? It was a beautiful film, it gave me two hours of pure delight (minus the scene we fast-forwarded-- I'll get to that) and frankly, that was all I wanted.
Emily Blunt was practically perfect in every way as Victoria. At the beginning of the movie, I was a little afraid that she was going to be some bratty Modern Woman who wanted everything her own way and would not let her free and passionate spirit be quenched by her overbearing guardians, la-di-da, la-di-da. And as it turned out, she was that way at first--and yet I felt sorry for her instead of being annoyed with her. The poor girl had an awful lot to put up with, both from her mother and from Sir John Conroy (whose relationship to the royal family is still a bit of a mystery to me... can anyone clear that up?). But though it was evident she wasn't happy with her life, she wasn't obnoxious or snotty about it. Maybe it was just Emily Blunt's superb performance, but I found myself liking Victoria immensely, almost from the very beginning.
Eeeeep! Now that I've done my duty and addressed Victoria first (and I really did like her, don't get me wrong) I can move on to my favoritest character in the entire story. Yay Albert!
Albert. Was. Awesome. I had been slightly apprehensive about his character too-- I didn't want to see him portrayed as some weak and boring guy who said "Yes, dear," to everything his wife told him and let her be the boss of him. I was worried that there might be an issue of him wanting to be king alongside of her, and she would say no and he would back down and just be the prince and Know His Place. But never fear, nothing of the sort happened. In fact, the movie ended with Victoria's learning that she could do nothing without her husband's support and guidance, and she needed him more than anyone else in her life. Whoops, I just spoiled that for you--but you knew it would end happily, right?
I've never seen Emily Blunt in any other movies, but I had seen Rupert Friend in
FakeP&P Pride and Prejudice '05 as the slimeball Mr. Wickham. Happily, that didn't ruin my appreciation of Albert one whit. After about five seconds, I completely forgot that he'd ever played the dreadful Wickham, and even his weird ponytail from Fake--er, P&P05 was erased from my memory and replaced by his excellent hair in TYV. (I've never been a fan of mustaches, but... ahem... I may have changed my mind just a wee bit. Well, in Albert's case, at least. Cough, cough.)
|I'm not quite sure why I find this picture so cute. But I do. |
They're so cute! Am I overusing "cute"? Oh, I am? Soary.
Victoria and Albert's relationship was one of the sweetest I've seen in a movie. I like a fast-paced, dramatic love story as much as the next North and South fan, but my favorite romances are always the "love comes softly" type. Victoria and Albert's made me think of this quote from Anne of Avonlea: "Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one's life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one's side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps. . . perhaps. . .love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath." (I adore that quote.)
Their initial awkwardness around each other was almost funny, and their correspondence was ADORABLE. Was anyone else ready to strangle Albert's uncles for reading poor Albert's mail before he could get to it? The scene where he comes tearing down the stairs to get the mail before his relatives do was probably my favorite.
"As a matter of interest, will a time come when I read them first?"
"Oh, you'll enjoy this one. She has a real flair for description."
I promise I won't spend this entire review just talking about my favorite scenes, but I have to say that the archery scene was so cute--er, sweet. I need to stop using "cute." Although that was definitely one of the parts where Albert's German accent slipped up. It was never very convincing to begin with, but there were some times when it lapsed altogether, and I was much amused. But then, I'm easily amused.
And the proposal... oh, wow, the proposal. (Sometimes I think I should just stick to reviewing movies I didn't like, because then I'm not tempted to gush.) I bawled unashamedly. At first I was worried that she was going to have to propose to him and that Just Didn't Seem Right, but he handled it so well. It was sweet beyond belief. "And stay with you? ... And stay with me. And marry you? ... And marry me."
Victoria's outfits were so very lovely. I've never been much of a fan of the 1830's styles, preferring later-nineteenth-century clothing, but after seeing this movie, I wanted to wear all her costumes. The wedding dress...
I mean, just look at her veil. Happy sigh. So simple and yet so elegant. I could have done without the white satin bows on Albert's shoulders (seriously?) but he looked very nice too.
Whoops, I got sidetracked and forgot to discuss the secondary characters. I enjoyed hated Sir John Conroy. He was ickiness personified (and for the record, I will never, ever be able to finish watching Emma 1997, because the very idea of him being Mr. Knightley is enough to make me sick). Victoria's mother was... ugh. I knew I should have felt sorry for her, but I just couldn't bring myself to do so. I did, however, feel sorry for the poor King... and I really liked Queen Adelaide. At long last, that Fanny Dashwood actress gets a nice role. (I've seen her in Sense and Sensibility and Little Dorrit, and in both of those movies I wanted to soak her head.)
Lord Melbourne was... meh. I can't say I hated him, but I didn't like him either. I was left with a kind of "wait, is he a good guy or a bad guy?" feeling. And he bore a striking resemblance to Doc Baker on Little House... or was that just me?
Back to the story. Some of the post-wedding scenes were sweet, and some were... well, we fast-forwarded about ten minutes of the film. There are some moments that involve Victoria and Albert being newlyweds, and though nothing technically inappropriate happened (they are married, after all) it was um... quite smoochy. So yeah, I'd recommend that you fast-forward. :D
Okay, spoiler alert time. We're going to talk about the best part of the movie, and if you don't want the ending ruined, just hightail it out of here right now, okay? Okay.
I'm a sucker for stories that feature taking-a-bullet-for-someone-else (Les Miserables anyone?), and Albert's saving of Victoria's life was no exception. The fact that they had just quarreled before the assassination scene ("For pity's sake, smile, woman.") only served to add to the awesomeness. And I'm not usually a fan of slow-motion in movies, but in this case, that effect was very... effective.
|His hat, yes. Her hat, NO.|
I'd already seen the "you're so stupid, why did you do it?" clip on a friend's blog a while ago, so I knew that Albert survived the initial shooting, but I also knew that he died pretty young. And I was terribly afraid that he was going to have a relapse or an infection or something and die before the movie was over. (Sometimes those filmmakers play around with history, you know.) As all of you who have seen the movie (which, in fact, should be "all of you reading this," because if you haven't seen it, why are you spoiling it for yourselves?) know, he lives on for quite a while after that, and I was greatly relieved. The post-assassination scene was, I might add, incredibly touching. "You're the only wife I've got or ever will have. You are my whole existence, and I will love you until my very last breath."
And then, yes, the movie ended with a heartless little text thingy on the screen announcing that Albert died of typhus at the age of 42. Victoria laid out his clothes every morning after his death until the day she died. (You have my permission to sniffle.) I know that was historically accurate and all, and it was good that they informed viewers of how the story ended... but I would have been happy to have finished the TYV experience without it
When I was little, I always rewrote book or movie endings in my head if I didn't like the way they turned out... and so when I think of TYV, this is how it ends. With this picture, with no typhus and no grief and no clothes-without-Albert-in-them. In my mind, at least, the story ends when the princess married the prince and they all lived happily ever after in a real-life fairy tale.
With lots and lots of gorgeous clothes, of course.