Directed by: Jean-Marc Valléz
Cast: Emily Blunt (1), Rupert Friend (2), Paul Bettany (3), Miranda Richardson (4), Jim Broadbent (5), and Mark Strong (6)
My favourite quote – “You’re the only wife I’ve got or ever will have. You are my whole existence, and I will love you until my last breath.”
2011 was the year of biopics – The Iron Lady, The Lady, The King’s Speech, Soul Surfer, and J. Edgar were all films that hit the big screens in that year. I don’t watch many biopics, but they always fascinate me. And somehow, there always seems to be many biopics on my ‘to-watch’ list. Of those I’ve watched so far, my favourite is The Young Victoria.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited my sunny little island, Singapore, not too long ago and I thought it would be pretty apt to watch a film that focuses on the British monarchy. Especially since Prince William and his wife are here because of his grandmother’s Diamond Jubilee.
Queen Victoria ruled for 63 years, 7 months, and 2 days. And Queen Elizabeth II’s length of reign is just approximately 3 years shy of surpassing Queen Victoria’s length of reign. Wow!
Perhaps it is because of the fact that she is the longest reigning British Sovereign to date that I am so captivated by her story and this film. Or perhaps I really enjoy this film because at the heart of it, it is about a young woman who makes her mark in a man’s world. And to add to that I love a good love story. Considering the time period, the fact that they loved so fiercely touches me greatly.
The film chronicles the life of Queen Victoria from the time she was a young woman, up to the time she becomes a mother. Through the film you get a sense of who she is and why she is the way she is. I am not a historian and will probably not nitpick at the historical facts. So I enjoyed the film immensely.
Princess Victoria: Do you ever feel like a chess piece yourself? In a game being played against your will.
Prince Albert: Do you?
Princess Victoria: Constantly. I see them leaning in and moving me around the board.
Prince Albert: The Duchess and Sir John?
Princess Victoria: Not just them. Uncle Leopold. The king. I’m sure half the politicians are ready to seize hold of my skirts and drag me from square to square.
Prince Albert: Then you had better master the rules of the game until you play it better than they can.
Princess Victoria: You don’t recommend I find a husband to play it for me?
Prince Albert: I should find one to play it with you, not for you.
Do you play chess? I do, but I have to admit I’m not very good at it. Although, I noticed that the scenes in films with chess or archery I tend to enjoy. That aside, I especially liked this scene because I felt that this was the point in the film that Prince Albert and Princess Victoria connected and began to understand each other. I like that Prince Albert talks of a marriage in which both individuals are equal and work towards a common goal.
Queen Victoria: I’m so sorry! I thought I was going to lose you!
Prince Albert: I don’t think he was a very good shot.
Queen Victoria: Why did you do it? So stupid, why did you do it?
Prince Albert: I had two very good reasons. First, I am replaceable and you are not.
Queen Victoria: You are not replaceable to me!
Prince Albert: Second, you’re the only wife I’ve got or ever will have. You are my whole existence, and I will love you until my last breath.
It’s obvious why I love this other piece of dialogue. Underneath it all I’m a hopeless romantic. But I wonder, while many of us may not ever have a need to jump in front of our loved ones to prevent them from being shot, would you? I have no answer to that question, probably because I’m single and we can say we will sacrifice ourselves for our loved ones, but you can say one thing but doing is something else altogether. Nonetheless, it is very romantic.
Prince Albert: My dear Victoria, while these days may feel endless, please do not lose faith in yourself or your people. We are all allowed to make mistakes, most especially when we have looked to others for guidance.
Queen Victoria: The storm still rages outside the palace walls. I wonder now if everyone was right. Perhaps I am too young and inexperienced for my position.
Prince Albert: Open your mind, examine your choices and your honesty will take you through the storm. I promise that you can do this work and do it well. You have courage and heart, and you said it yourself, you are stronger than you look.
I like this exchange between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, I like that Prince Albert understands her and knows just how to support and encourage her. The film portrays the budding romance between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert through their letters and while this form of courtship seems slow and dated, do remember this is set in a time when emails and telephones were not invented yet. Perhaps the traditionalist in my likes their love story so much because theirs is a love that grew over time through mutual understanding and support despite the distance. Theirs is a long distance relationship that survived not only the physical distance, but also politics and the fact that his wife is a rich woman and a sovereign.
I must say though I love The Young Victoria also because the cinematography is beautiful. The director loves to use depth of field and plays with the visuals. This gives the film a very romantic feel and gives due credit to the wonderful sets, costumes, and props in the film.
Before The Young Victoria I watched Emily Blunt’s performance in The Devil Wears Prada and I was in awe of her talent. Since that film, I’ve paid closer attention to her and watched her films like Sunshine Cleaning and The Jane Austen Book Club. In fact, when The Young Victoria was first in the cinemas, it was a limited release in Australia and I had to go all the way to the Birch Carroll & Coyle cinema in Bulimba. And mind you I didn’t own a car when I was studying in Australia. She does a fantastic job here as Princess Victoria.
Truth be told, when I saw Rupert Friend’s performance in The Young Victoria, I was rather impressed. And then I went home and researched who he was and what other films he’s acted in before. And I was surprised that I didn’t remember him as Wickham in Pride And Prejudice. I think it was the accent and the make up that he has as Prince Albert in the film. Nonetheless it is his performance as Prince Albert in The Young Victoria that made me sit up and notice him.
Paul Bettany. Ever since the film Wimbledon, I have paid close attention to his performances. He has this subtle charm that sneaks up on you and he didn’t disappoint in The Young Victoria. In fact, the entire film was well cast.
The Young Victoria is a film that is most definitely worth watching.
(1) Emily Blunt has acted in films like The Devil Wears Prada (2006), The Jane Austen Book Club (2007), Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), Sunshine Cleaning (2008), The Wolfman (2010), Gulliver’s Travels (2010), The Adjustment Bureau (2011), The Muppets (2011), Salmon Fishing In The Yemen (2012), Your Sister’s Sister (2012), The Five-Year Engagement (2012), Looper (2012), Arthur Newman (2012), Edge Of Tomorrow (2014), Into The Woods (2014), Sicario (2015), and The Huntsman: Winter’s War (2016). She also voiced the character of Juliet in the animation Gnomeo And Juliet (2011).
(2) Rupert Friend has acted in films like Pride And Prejudice (2004), The Boy In The Stripped Pajamas (2008), Cheri (2009), The Kid (2010), and Hitman: Agent 47 (2015). He also plays Peter Quinn in the television series Homeland (2012-present).
(3) Paul Bettany has acted in films like A Knight’s Tale (2001), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), Dogville (2003), Wimbledon (2004), The Da Vinci Code (2006), The Secret Life Of Bees (2008), Inkheart (2008), Creation (2009), Legion (2010), The Tourist (2010), Priest (2011), Margin Call (2011), Transcendence (2014), Mortdecai (2015), Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015), Legend (2015), and Captain America: Civil War (2015). He also provides the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S in the films Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2012), and Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015).
(4) Miranda Richardson has acted in films like Sleepy Hollow (1999), Get Carter (2000), The Hours (2002), The Prince And Me (2004), The Phantom Of The Opera (2004), Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (2005), Paris, Je t’aime (2006), Fred Claus (2007), Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010), Belle (2013), and Muppets Most Wanted (2014).
(5) Jim Broadbent has acted in films like Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), Moulin Rouge! (2001), Gangs Of New York (2002), Nicholas Nickleby (2002), Around The World In 80 Days (2004), Vanity Fair (2004), Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason (2004), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Inkheart (2008), Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince (2009), Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), The Iron Lady (2011), Cloud Atlas (2012), Bridget Jones’s Baby (2017). He also voiced the character of William in Zootopia (2016).
(6) Mark Strong has acted in films like Emma (1996), Fever Pitch (1997), Sunshine (1999), Oliver Twist (2005), Syriana (2005), Tristan & Isolde (2006), Sunshine (2007), Stardust (2007), Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (2008), RocknRolla (2008), Sherlock Holmes (2009), Kick-Ass (2009), Robin Hood (2010), Green Lantern (2011), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), John Carter (2012), Welcome To The Punch (2012), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), The Imitation Game (2014), and Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015).
The Young Victoria is beautifully shot, wonderfully cast, and invites you to get a glimpse of the fascinating woman who is also the longest reigning British Sovereign to date. It reminds me that royalty or not, they can make mistakes and they can fall in love. They are human, just like you and me. (4.9 of 5)
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