I went into The Young Victoria with no real expectations aside from a very shallow thought of ‘oooh, men in boots and britches’. I always think its quite a dangerous thing to expect good things from films because you end up with that inevitable disappointment (‘it wasn’t as good as I expected it to be’) whereas if you expect something to be terrible you end up pleasently surprised andmore willing to forgot flaws. It’s some great catch-22 of film-going because why would you go to see a film that you think will be terrible even if you know you’ll end up being impressed by it, etc.
So, The Young Victoria, I suppose I must have had certain expections because as soon as the cinema began filling up with young women I did think ‘oh heck, is this going to be a chick flick?!?!?!?!’
And by ‘chick flick’ I mean a shallow, empty and unsatfsifying film that producers expect women to enjoy but the vast majority would probably watch Lord of the the Rings (any LotR… except maybe the animated one).
In a way it was very much a chick flick – it was predictable and romantic and totally went everything, I certainly, believed about Victoria and Albert’s personality.
But that’s not to say it was bad. I was very impressed by the dialogue, not realising that it was written by Julian Fellowes, and the acting. Emily Blunt’s been pegged as an up-and-coming for what seems like ages now (meaning that I read it before The Devil Wears Prada came out and either that was ages ago or I’ve blocked out all that hype to make it seem so) – she has the same sort of charm as Kate Winslet where she can play the ‘plain’ (and-yet-because-it-‘s-a-film-still-pretty) characters and characters who are supposed to be very beautiful.
Rupert Friend was also very good – his German accent was also ‘good’, and I put that in inverted commas because I’m in the camp that thinks you should either speak the language or do it without an accent (it was my one great bugbear of The Reader that even though they were speaking ‘German’ throughout it was all English-with-accents). Friend did both – i.e. he spoke German when he was speaking ‘German’ and English-with-an-accent when he was speaking in ‘English’ – there was no need for inverted commas there except my excessive fondness for unneeded punctuation. And he was very good, I mean, in my mind, Albert was a brute but Friend’s character was very charming and sweet (chick flick hero) but without it all being cloying. Also I suppose him having cheekbones that you want to lick helps.
I don’t think enough emphasis was put on the pressures Victoria faced and characters like her mother and advisor could have been used more, and probably villianised more – I feel that everyone was too nice and, they are human after all. It was, of course, beautifully shot – in a period like that and with actors like it the film would have been wasted without such lovely costumes and scenery.